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The University of Wyoming Geological Museum: One of UW's most visible and successful outreach and academic programs

The University of Wyoming Geological Museum: One of UW's most visible and successful outreach and academic programs

It is dismaying to report that the University of Wyoming has decided to include the Geological Museum in the programs to be cut as a result of a decrease in funding by the state. 45 people across the University lost their jobs, including the Director of the Geological Museum Brent Breithaupt and the part-time museum secretary. This decision was made by the University administration, and in no way reflects a lack of support from the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

The museum itself and the paleontological research program that has been built around it is an amazing educational resource that is utilized daily by everyone from university professors to preschool children.  The museum was founded in 1887 by Wilbur C. Knight, shortly after the university itself was founded. One of the first curators was William Harlow Reed, one of the railroad workers who discovered the first dinosaurian fossils at Como Bluff, WY. The current museum building was built under the direction of Samuel H. “Doc” Knight, for whom the S. H. Knight Geology building is named. The museum’s physical connection to the Geology Building allows it to be routinely incorporated into laboratory and classroom activities. In addition, public and private school classes frequently tour the museum as part of their curricula, making this museum a significant educational resource not just for Laramie but for the entire state of Wyoming.

The museum houses many rocks, minerals, and fossils of interest to children and researchers alike, including one of the only mounted skeletons of Apatosaurus (“Brontosaurus”) which recently was re-mounted with its tail in the air. Visitors from across the country come to see “Big Al” the Allosaurus as well as numerous other exhibits. Several holotype specimens are on display and have been available for research. Other specimens currently under study include the Columbian mammoth (ancient DNA) and microvertebrates from the Mesaverde Fm. A working preparation station has been integrated into the museum, and visitors can ask questions while watching fossils being prepared. Any support offered at this time is greatly appreciated. We will keep the community apprised of any further developments in regards to the status of the University of Wyoming Geological Museum.

Letters of concern and support can be addressed to:

Tom Buchanan Office of the President Dept. 3434 1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071 tombuch@uwyo.edu

Myron Allen Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dept. 3302 1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071 allen@uwyo.edu

Also, please sign the petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/geomuseum/

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One Comment

  1. It never ceases to astound how easily “conservatives” trash decades-long investments that have borne considerable fruit not only in short-term profit but in long-term economic well-being such as the single most important factor in furthering the future economic health of this country: educating the public. The is yet another political travesty orchestrated by a mindset that is entirely self-serving and without a shred of consideration to future generations, who must inevitably shoulder the extra burdens of poor decisions exactly like this one. The word “shameless” is inadequate to describe the individuals responsible for this decision. I trust that far better-equipped minds in the good state of Wyoming will be able to persevere over the kind of thoughtless political and ideological-driven attitudes that have so long dogged the true interests of the people of that magnificent state.


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