Journal Article

  • Using theatre skills in a science exhibition: Dinosaurs of China in Nottingham
    Nunn, M., Smith, A.S.
    Journal of Natural Science Collections, Volume 6, pages 99 - 111

    Dinosaurs of China was a world-exclusive temporary exhibition of iconic, mostly feathered dinosaur fossils, which have revolutionised our understanding of dinosaur appearance and biology over the last 20 years. Hunter the Sinraptor was a puppeteer-operated semianimatronic theropod dinosaur costume. Hunter, accompanied by Dinosaur Rangers, publicised the exhibition within Nottingham and beyond, visited schools to explore dinosaur ecology, and interacted with visitors to the exhibition. The process of putting this element of the exhibition into place included procurement of the costume, ‘Dino-Factor’ auditions to find a skilled puppeteer, and recruitment of volunteer Rangers. Hunter and the Rangers contributed towards exhibition marketing and the public learning experience. There is an extensive body of literature on the value of integrating dramatic arts into schools and museums, and our findings add to this body of evidence. Hunter inspired engagement with science in formal and informal settings. However, the dinosaur had mixed impacts on visitor expectations, with some anticipating animatronics to feature within the exhibition itself. In conclusion, we show that if used with care, theatre and performance skills can boost marketing and enhance scientifically rigorous learning experiences.

    Keywords: dinosaurs, puppets, theatre, drama, China, animatronic, Nottingham, science education