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University of Iowa News Release


April 7, 2009

UI Pentacrest Museums host Family Weekend April 18-19

The University of Iowa Pentacrest Museums will hold their annual Family Weekend on Saturday, April 18, and Sunday, April 19.

Over the two days, both the Museum of Natural History and Old Capitol Museum will offer numerous free, public events for visitors of all ages, including Earth Day activities, the Museum of Natural History's "Fossil Guy" kickoff, a Charlie Chaplin film screening, and scavenger hunts.

One of the Museum of Natural History's most popular programs, The Fossil Guy, with local amateur paleontologist and UI staff member Don Johnson, begins Family Weekend at 2 p.m., Saturday, April 18, in Macbride Auditorium. The talk, "Feathered Dinosaurs Yesterday and Today," focuses on recent dinosaur fossil discoveries in China that show there were several feathered dinosaurs. Therizinosaurs, oviraptorosaurs, dromaeosaurs, and even small tyrannosaurs fossils have all been found with preserved feather impressions, further establishing these special dinosaurs' close relationship with modern birds.

Johnson will bring items from his personal fossil collection, one of the largest in Iowa. Visitors will have the opportunity to see and touch fossils and artifacts in a hands-on, question-and-answer session following the 30-minute talk. The presentations are geared toward elementary-age school children, but visitors of any age with an interest in dinosaurs are invited to attend. Other Saturday Fossil Guy programs are scheduled for April 25 and May 2.

Additional Family Weekend scheduled events include:

--"Discovering Comedy: Charlie Chaplin the Pioneering Film Artist," 1 p.m. Saturday, April 18, Old Capitol Museum. Since April is Humor Month, Old Capitol Museum will show a compilation of short films by one of comedy's pioneering screen artists, Charlie Chaplin. Free popcorn will be provided.

--Animal Tales Storytime: Dr. Seuss's "The Lorax," 2 p.m. Sunday, April 19, Biosphere Discovery Hub in the Museum of Natural History. For Earth Day, Museum of Natural History presents a reading of "The Lorax," by Dr. Seuss. The story, which has gained prominence for its environmental themes, chronicles the tale of the Lorax a creature that defends a community's trees from an industrial interloper, the Once-ler.

Both museums will also host ongoing events throughout the weekend.

The Museum of Natural History has planned Earth Day activities during regular hours for families to find out more about environmentally friendly living. Visitors can learn about the Iowa's environment, plants and animals, discover simple ways to be kind to the planet and learn about trees while exploring the Pentacrest. Visitors can design their own eco-friendly canvas bags, as well as make other crafts with recycled materials.

"We want to encourage children and families to conserve at home and become more aware of why being environmentally conscious is important," said Sarah Horgen, Museum of Natural History education and outreach coordinator.

Throughout the weekend, the Old Capitol Museum will offer a Treasures of Iowa History scavenger hunt during open hours, encouraging visitors to learn about Iowa's first state capitol while exploring the historic rooms.

For more information contact the Old Capitol Museum at 319-335-0548 or the Museum of Natural History at 319-335-0606. For museum hours see the UI Museum of Natural History Web site and the Old Capitol Museum Web site

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Kathrine Moermond, Old Capitol Museum, 319-335-0548,; Sarah Horgen, Museum of Natural History, 319-335-0606,; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,; Writer: Claire Lekwa