New dinosaur museum near Grande Prairie named after Philip J. Currie | DrumhellerMail
Last updateThu, 21 Sep 2023 8am

New dinosaur museum near Grande Prairie named after Philip J. Currie


  An Alberta palaeontologist who was instrumental in the development and success of the Royal Tyrrell Museum will have his name adorning the outside of another dinosaur museum.

    Philip J. Currie, a professor at the University of Alberta, will have a new dinosaur museum near Grande Prairie named after him when the $26.4 million Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum opens its doors next year.
    “It’s a very great honour,” said Philip Currie, “I had to think about it for a day, you do think ‘what are the implications?’. I felt there were no negatives and it was meant as something very positive.”
    “It’s very much in everybody’s interest to have more institutions out there to deal with this amazing resource we have in this province,” said Currie. “We’ve reached a point where there is so much dinosaur history in the province, the Tyrrell couldn’t keep up anymore.”
    The museum was placed near Grande Prairie because of rich bone beds there, almost as rich as Drumheller, although many fossils are under forested areas and harder rock.
    “The more museums we put here, the more we’ll attract. There’s no question already that the Tyrrell attracts scientists from around the world, but now they’ll go back and say this is where things are happening right now.”
    Originally planned to be named the River of Death Discovery Dinosaur Museum, corporate sponsor pressure and marketing advisors suggested they find a different name to avoid negative connotations of death. Currie’s name carries a large hand in the palaeontological world as he has published many writings and has been heavily involved in the Alberta scene.
    “We changed it to gain something – to have Philip J. Currie to be in association with our museum was seen as an absolute plus to everything we’re doing,” says Brian Brake, executive director for the museum. “His name is associated with excellence in the field, and we thought it was a very smart move.”
    Currie will be playing more of an advisory role with this museum.
    “This will provide another world class facility in Alberta which focuses on promoting palaeontology,” said Brake.
    There is no doubt in either Currie’s or Brake’s mind that Alberta has room for another world class museum.
    “There is no state or province anywhere in North America that has the resources that we have uncovered here in Alberta. The more that we expose this to the public and make it available for them to appreciate and study, the better it will be for all Albertans.”
    Brake said the 41,000 square foot museum hopes to break ground for construction this summer, and start the creation of displays to go into the museums.
    “Our goal is to open the facility in December of 2012,” said Brake, if all funding is in place.
    The museum will be in the town of Wembley, on Highway 43, near Grande Prairie.

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