Nationally Known Dinosaur Roars Into Santa Barbara For The Summer

May 24, 2016

An impressive convoy of giant big rigs is sitting outside of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and crews are carefully unloading some giant wooden boxes.

Three truckloads of items belong to a tourist named Sue, who’s visiting Santa Barbara for the summer. In fact, she’s actually in the boxes.

Sue is a 42-foot-long, 12-foot-high Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Museum President and CEO Luke Swetland says it’s exciting to have a replica of the largest and best preserved T. Rex skeleton in the world as the star of a new exhibition.

The original Sue is owned by Chicago’s Field Museum. She was found by paleontologist Sue Hendrickson in South Dakota in 1990, and that’s why she’s named Sue, even though they don’t know if she was male or female. The skeleton is too delicate to travel, so the museum painstakingly created a full-sized cast model, as well as supporting exhibits, to tell the T. Rex story.

After two years of work by the Santa Barbara Museum, they were able to book the traveling exhibition.

Getting it to Santa Barbara was no easy task. Its last appearance was in Nova Scotia, and it took 33,000 hours to pack it, before three big rigs drove seven days and 3700 miles to Santa Barbara for its next stop.

The museum’s Frank Hein says it takes a full day to unpack the T. Rex, and three days to put her and the exhibition together.  The exhibition will feature the massive skeleton as the centerpiece, with a number of accompanying exhibits to help tell Sue's story, as well as anecdotes on dinosaurs in general.

The exhibition, which is officially called “A T. Rex Named Sue,” will open this holiday weekend on Saturday, and run through September 11th at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.