Hall of Evolution
The Hall of Evolution exhibit at the MSU Museum is constructed as a time line, with exhibits of fossils arranged in chronological order from the Cambrian Period (about 500 million years ago) to the Pleistocene Epoch or "Ice Age" that ended about 10,000 years ago. The fossils are accompanied by diorama paintings showing the animals as they appeared in life. Fossils displayed include the skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a femur from an Apatosaurus.
An MSU Geology Honors Seminar recently completed work enhancing the hall with touchable specimens for sight-impaired visitors. The inspiration for the course came two years ago when Danita Brandt, associate professor of geological sciences, began working with a sight-impaired student and quickly realized she would be unable to complete a gallery tour and class assignment. Museums worldwide historically had difficulty serving the sight-impaired population because exhibitions rely on text on the wall and objects behind cases to convey interpretive information.
In all, Brandt, her students and MSU Museum curator of exhibitions Juan Alvarez are installing eight fossil casts in the Hall of Evolution exhibition to create a touchable exhibit. In addition, the works have English and Braille text labels. Featured are the skull of the fossil fish Xiphactinus, two fossil amphibian skulls, a large eurypterid (an extinct arthropod), several trilobites (another group of extinct arthropod), and molars from a mammoth and mastodon.