CHICAGO — Experts began the painstaking process of moving a priceless 67-million-year-old fossil Monday as the Field Museum’s most famous resident, Sue the T. rex, prepares to move to a new exhibit hall.
The world’s most famous fossil has stood on center stage at the Field Museum’s grand field hall for nearly two decades. But it was only supposed to be a temporary home. Now the museum has finished a permanent exhibition hall where the 40' long, 13' tall relic will be moved after a deliberate, delicate, drawn-out process.
“I think people come to Chicago just to see Sue. It really is an icon of Chicago, and we don’t expect that to change, even though we’re moving her into her own exhibit hall," said Bill Simpson, the Field Museum's head of geological collections.
Simpson is the Field Museum’s foremost expert on fossils, and said the process of moving Sue will take almost a month, as each piece is carefully taken apart, catalogued, and stored. A crowd gathered Monday as experts began dismantling the dinosaur, piece-by-piece with an Allen wrench.
“It looks kind of funny because it’s so big and they’re so dangerous, but they have tiny arms," third grader Emerson Clark said on Monday.
Sue became an icon in Chicago, reaching out from 67 million years ago to capture a city’s imagination with those tiny arms. Alison Laurence once viewed Sue through those eyes of youthful wonder, and what she saw inspired her career.
“This dinosaur has been a pretty big part of my life, so much so that I’m actually working on a Ph.D related to extinct animal exhibitions, so I couldn’t not come back and say goodbye to Sue,” Laurence said.
Sue’s place in the museum is changing, but her place in history is secure.
“I’m a little sad because I grew up coming and seeing sue – she’s like a big part of the museum," 9-year-old Emerson said.
Sue will be replaced in the main exhibit hall with an even bigger dinosaur: a cast of a 122-foot long Titanosaur that will extend from tail to head all the way into the second floor. Sue will be back on display in 2019.
As for Sue, she has a popular Twitter account, and her comment after her feet were removed Monday was: "I’ve been workshopping material, but now I’m stumped."