Unboxing the museum: Deinocheirus claws

The image of two metre long claws from the dinosaur model of a Deinocheirus were etched into the memory of Tim Ziegler when he was a young child. 

He could not remember where or when he saw them just that he had encountered them in the past. Many years later, now working at Museums Victoria as a Collection Manager he encountered a surprising object on a rack one day....

The racks and collections in Museum stores contain many objects and memories this is Tim's personal story of just one.

My name is Tim Ziegler, and at Melbourne Museum, I work as a collection manager. I look after the vertebrate palaeontology collection.

My earliest memory of a dinosaur is one of my earliest memories. It must have been from when I was about three or four years old, because all I have in my head is this vivid image of an enormous pair of arms with huge curving claws on the tips, bearing down on me from above.

I couldn't have told you where, or when, or why I saw them, but that image of these huge arms stayed with me all through my life.

When I started working at Melbourne Museum, managing our vertebrate fossil collection, what I didn't expect is that early on in the job, inspecting the collection, I would come around a corner in one of our collection stores.

I was learning my way around the collection, and I turned a corner, and I saw on one of our racks, this image from my memory.

These objects, these claws, which turned out to be the replica arms and hands of a gigantic two-legged dinosaur called Deinocheirus. Its name even means 'terrible hand.'

These arms, altogether more than 2 and 1/2 metres long, are huge even now to me. I understood that I must have seen them at Melbourne Museum when I was so much younger.

Now as the collection manager, I get to look after, and make safe, these objects that formed one of my earliest memories of dinosaurs, and one of my earliest memories altogether. And that's really special to me.

Museums are special because for our younger visitors, this is the place where they get to have their first encounter with wonder and awe. And for so many kids, that comes in the form of seeing dinosaurs for the first time.

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