Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D.

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Museum Studies, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Noelle J. Wiedemer, M.A.

First Reader

Noelle J. Wiedemer, M.A.

Second Reader

Cynthia A. Conides, Ph.D.


This thesis examines the struggle of museums to keep up with swiftly advancing scientific discoveries relating to the study and display of Mesozoic (approximately 250 million years to 65 million years ago) non-avian dinosaurs. The paper will explore the history of dinosaur discoveries, their display methodologies in museums, and how pop culture, including movies and video games, have influenced museum displays and public perception over time. The lack of updated dinosaur exhibits in smaller local museums leads to disbelief, or an outright denial, of new information such as feathered dinosaurs. Entertainment, such as movies and video games that have non-avian dinosaurs as part of their presentation, are examined over the past thirty years to determine how accurate or inaccurate they are to the understanding of dinosaurs from their respective years.

An informal survey was conducted at the Buffalo Museum of Science during April 2019, asking visitors to give their feedback on the Rethink Extinct exhibit. The author visited several museums and included their dinosaur exhibits in this thesis for comparison. These include the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York, The American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and the Los Angeles Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, California. Additional information from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is included regarding their process of updating their Dinosaur Hall Exhibit. Comparing museum inaccuracies in both large and small museums, it was discovered that smaller museums are more heavily impacted by pop culture and are less prone to attend to details that offer up to date interpretations of their dinosaur exhibits.