The Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta (Where Gumbo was #259)


Gumbo was visiting the fantastic Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, Canada.  Congratulations to George G, PortMoresby and Roderick Simpson, who solved this week’s travel puzzle.

003a Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller entrance

003 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller entrance

At first glance, the small city of Drumheller seems an unlikely place to find a superb science museum – one of the finest in Canada and one that is very family-oriented.  The museum opened in 1985 and was given "Royal" status in 1990 by Queen Elizabeth, a sign of high distinction.

015 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Tricratops

I live in Calgary and when I have visitors who are inclined to see a museum, I always suggest they drive to see the Royal Tyrrell.  Alberta is the dinosaur capital of the world and this museum houses one of the most interesting and diverse collection of fossils and related items you’ll find anywhere.  The Royal Tyrrell has a collection of over 125,000 fossils, mostly vertebrates.

052 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Devonian Reef Predator

The Museum is located in Midland Provincial Park, 6 km (4 miles) from Drumheller itself, in the heart of Alberta’s badlands.  Floods from melting glaciers carved the unique landscape around the museum more than 10,000 years ago, creating dramatic eroded beauty.  But it’s what’s buried within the ground that is this area’s treasure, as the most extensive deposits of dinosaur bones found anywhere in the world are in Alberta's badlands. 

018 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Jeffrey Bridge Alberta. New Species

056 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Dimetrodon

Fossils on display vary from invertebrates found in the nearby Burgess Shale of the Canadian Rockies, to those of mammoths, but the predominant displays are of the Jurassic era, especially of duck-billed dinosaurs (herbivores) and Albertosaurus (carnivores), which were plentiful here.  Displays include everything from a nest of dinosaur eggs...

014 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Dinosaur eggs. Devil's Coulee Alberta dinosaur footprints...

012 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller Dinosaur footprints beautiful ammonite (very popular in making jewelery)...

019 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Ammonite, Lethbridge Alberta

The museum is very diverse, with many exhibit halls and spaces, which can be enjoyed by everyone.  These include:

A Cretaceous Garden, which recreates a lush coastal environment with swamps, ponds and marshes much like how prehistoric Alberta might have been when dinosaurs roamed here...

058 Royal Tyrrell Museum

Devonian Reef. A lifesize model of Alberta 375-million-years ago, during the Age of fishes...

049 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Devonian Reef Predator

Burgess Shale: Underwater world, featuring small, odd and unique creatures found fossilized in the Burgess Shale of Yoho National Park....

038b Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Precambrian

040 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Precambrian(Mock up of the aquatic life forms from the Burgess Shale)

045 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Precambrian(Some of the Burgess shale fossils)

CRETACEOUS ALBERTA has life-size models of Albertosaurus moving across a dry river channel. It was a top predator, just like it's bigger cousin, T Rex...

006 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Albertosaurus 69,000,000 yrs ago

The first Albertosaurus was discovered by Joseph Tyrrell, after whom the museum is named, then a young geologist searching for coal.  

004 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller

Lords of the Land: T-Rex and other top carnivore exhibit. Tyrell's original Albertosaurus fossil is part of this exhibit....

010 Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller. Black Beauty. Crowsnest Pass Alberta
(Black Beauty,  en bloc T Rex specimen from Alberta's Crowsnest Pass)

Preparation Lab: See how fossils are meticulously removed from their rocks. The Tyrrell Museum is not just an exhibit hall but a place of ongoing scientific research and specimen preparation.

Dinosaur Hall. One of the world's largest displays of dinosaur remains, with 40 mounted skeletons, from Stegosaurus to T Rex to Triceratops.

063 Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller. TRex

1001 Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller (82)
(More photos from Dinosaur Hall at the bottom of this post)

 Age of Mammals, with displays like this mock-up of a saber-tooth cat attaching a mammoth....

1001 Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller (124)

You’ll find plenty of activities to engage your kids, from play areas, to interesting displays, to dinosaur digs, fossil casting, lectures, and several hiking options.   Science camps in Midland Park and Museum campins are held in the summer months, so if these interest you contact the museum before arriving.

060 Royal Tyrrell Museum. Giant Lizard(World's largest marine reptile, discovered in Northern B.C.)

If you visit

Drumheller is situated northeast of Calgary, about an hour and a half’s drive (135 km, 84 mi) from the city.  You will need a car to get there as public transportation options are suboptimal.  The drive through the prairies is quite nice – even interesting if you’ve not visited the prairies before – with an especially notable stop being Horseshoe Canyon a few kilometers this side of Drumheller. 

The Museum is open daily, except for major holidays, and there are extended hours during the summer.  Plenty of free parking is available on site.  Museum admission is reasonable, less than $50.00 for a family of up to 8.   Click on the Museum's website for further information

Be sure to allow a full day to explore the museum.

A few final exhibits from Dinosaur Hall for you...

1001 Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller (88)

1001 Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller (90)

1001 Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller (96)

1001 Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller (105)

1001 Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller (108)


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Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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