Updated with more photographs: The American Museum of Natural History may be a place for things ancient and skeletal, but that doesn't mean the museum itself should stagnate. First came the iPad and iPhone navigation app (launched last week!), and now this: after 19 years interlocked in combat on a platform in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, the AMNH's entrance centerpiece of two dinosaur skeletons—the Barosaurus and Allosaurus—will be separated into two display mounts!
Yesterday morning, a technician from Research Casting International—the same company contracted to install the original mount in 1991—made the ceremonial first cut with an electric saw. The work will continue on through the next six weeks, after which visitors will be able to walk between the colossal skeletons for the first time in the museum's history. An eight foot-wide pathway will allow viewers to sidle up from any angle next to the Barosaurus, the tallest freestanding dinosaur mount in the world. "We get five million visitors a year, so we decided we should open up the space," said Mark Norell, chairman of the paleontology division. "We're not a museum of a museum. We've got to change every once in a while." Norell said discussions first began a year ago, when the museum began to notice damage to the aged mount, as well as crowd traffic patterns.
In the meantime, some expressed dismay that the dinosaurs have been obscured by ropes and scaffolding since yesterday night. Martin McKee, who was visiting with his family from Buffalo, told Gothamist, "We haven't been to the museum in eight years. I was disappointed. My daughter had just seen Night at the Museum, so that reinvigorated our interest in coming back." Still, the McKees were likely glad to report that Theodore Roosevelt in fact did not hold an uncanny resemblance to Robin Williams.
Update: We added more photographs of the separation work—the workers continued the project after the museum closed last night!