Hodgetts + Fung specially designed a workroom at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County called Thomas the T-Rex Lab where visitors may watch the actual work of paleontologists as they prepare and assemble the fossils of a 66 million year old Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The “Thomas” exhibit places real, working paleontologists in air-conditioned capsules which allow visitors to engage their activities at close range. The design of the working environment was enhanced by the provision of a large, diagrammatic image of Thomas’ skeletal remains on a blackboard, allowing paleontologist researchers to annotate their progress, and the design of a highly visible “brand” to identify the fossilized remains in the plaster research jackets that protect them from damage.
A specially-designed glove-box allows researchers more freedom of movement than conventional equipment and, at the same time, enhances visual access by visitors, who can observe in minute detail the cleaning of specimen fossils.
“The lab will show people that discovery really doesn't end in the field. Obviously the field is the moment of discovery and when things are found and collected and brought to the museum, but there are many discoveries that actually get done here in labs like the one we are going to have downstairs and in this case in front of people's eyes. They will be able to participate in those discoveries." - Dr. Luis Chiappe