Family Picks

Life-size dinosaurs invade natural sciences museum

CorrespondentMay 16, 2013 

Deinonychus was a carnivorous raptor of the early Cretaceous (made popular by "Jurassic Park") and will be part of the Dinosaurs in Motion exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.


Asheville artist John Payne dreamed of bringing dinosaurs to life, and he worked for years to create metal dinosaur skeletons that, with the help of lever and pulley systems, move just as the living beasts might have. This weekend, the public will get its first chance to see the fruits of his labor.

Saturday is the opening of Dinosaurs in Motion at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. It will be the first museum to display Payne’s life-size dinosaurs, which were pounded out of metal and welded by hand. They will be there through Sept. 8.

Visitors are invited to move the giant dinosaurs using levers and remote controls.

In addition to playing with the dinosaurs, you will also learn about the artist’s process and the science behind the project. At the end, kids can make their own sculptures out of recycled materials.

Payne was a leader in the Asheville arts community until he died suddenly of a stroke in 2008. He was 58. The exhibit’s organizers say his dinosaur project was his main focus in the final years of his life, and that he was inspired by the many hours he and his children spent admiring dinosaurs in The Field Museum in Chicago.

“The art of it for me is the engineering and the movement of these ancient skeletons,” Payne said in a video made before his death. “Movement is life, so that’s what I go after.”

The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are required and cost $10 for adults and $6 for children. Buy tickets at

• This weekend is the Got to Be NC Festival at the State Fairgrounds. It begins at noon Friday and goes all weekend. It’s open until 10 tonight, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

There will be carnival rides, as well as events intended to celebrate North Carolina’s agricultural roots, such as a tractor parade and pig races. Admission is free.

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