Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum opened in the spring of 2000. The museum is designed around the region’s rich heritage as one of the earth’s premier deposits of fossilized ancient life. At the opening the College began the only associate of Arts degree in Palaeontology in the United States and they also opened their foundry to making bronze casts of dinosaur skeletons. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of bronze skeletons, fossils and replicas of prehistoric creatures.
The museum is located in a building that was once a grocery store. The main exhibit hall houses replicated and original fossils, from tiny footprint casts to a 40-foot-long skeleton of a Torvosaurus, a rare carnivore that is related to Tyrannosaurus rex. Recently, the museum has received donations to augment their collection – most recently, they received a collection of minerals and fossils from Howard Shanks. A spacious, well-equipped paleontology/geology laboratory (with a large storage area for collections not on exhibit but available for study), a classroom and offices are also located the museum. A large observation window in the laboratory allows visitors to observe students and staff preparing specimens.
Since 2005, its students have discovered four new dinosaur species within 23 miles of Tucumcari; you can see these displayed at the museum. Every summer, one-week field courses are offered to the public (these can be customized for special-interest groups). School tours can be scheduled throughout the year. There is also a children’s area, “Kid’s Digs,” where Bootz, the rodeo dinosaur, lives and can be ridden as part of the children’s play.
The museum’s gift shop sells scientific and educational books, rocks and minerals, fossils, clothing, games, teaching aids, gift items and souvenirs and more.
Address: 222 East Laughlin Street, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Hours: Winter (Labor Day through February): Tuesday through Saturday, 12:00 pm to 5:00 p.m. Summer (March through Labor Day): Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.)
Admission: Adults, $6.50. Children 5 to 11, $4.00. Children under 5, free. Seniors 65 and over, $5.50.