RALEIGH — Many of us can conjure images of dinosaurs in our heads, but very few of us can sculpt them from recycled metal, and on top of that, engineer those works of art to come to life at the pull of a lever or the touch of a button. Welcome to the world premiere of “Dinosaurs In Motion,” a special exhibit cleverly combining art with science, showing exclusively at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences until September 8. From a 44-foot-long Tyrannosaurus rex to the more delicate yet still deadly Deinonychus, visitors can engage with — and learn from — 14 magnificent, “anatomically inspired” dinosaur sculptures.
The dream of Asheville artist John Payne was not simply to create scientifically accurate sculptures of dinosaurs, but to infuse them with kinetics and creativity. “In art I found the infinite world of expression,” said Payne. “An artist is bored with repetition. Art provided me with a reason and a purpose and I have never looked back.” Payne was a trained metalsmith and sculptor with a passion for learning and discovery. He devoted himself to creating metal kinetic dinosaurs, inspired by the universally enchanting effect dinosaurs have on people and the many hours he spent with his children admiring the dinosaurs at The Field Museum in Chicago. Recognizing an opportunity for teaching art and science, Payne blended his skills in mechanical science and artistic craftsmanship to create these wonderful dinosaur sculptures until his untimely death in 2008. A detailed look at his process, from sketches and sculptures to biomechanics and robotics, leads visitors to walk away with Payne’s inspiring message: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
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Has this exhibit ever been shown here in its entirety?