RETURNING THE DINOSAURS TO CENTRAL PARK, OR REVIVIFYING THE ANCIENT WORLD
A Commemoration of the Paleozoic Museum
Erect a monument to celebrate New York City’s attempt to establish the Paleozoic Museum in Central Park: Bronze statues of 2 of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins’ intended dinosaurs (Dryptosaurus and Hadrosaurus) rendered in his style.
Hawkins is credited with being the first person to restore life-sized dinosaurs. This was done for the Crystal Palace in London in the 1850s and Hawkins’ was subsequently invited to erect the New World equivalent spotlighting the American counterparts being unearthed at the time.
A foundation for the museum – a menagerie of fantastic reproductions of prehistoric animals – was already excavated by the time the notorious Tweed Ring decided to destroy the project in the early 1870s. Not only the physical structure but also important exhibition pieces, including sculpted dinosaur models, became a casualty of political strife.
The planning of the Paleozoic Museum was directed by the Commissioners of Central Park and constitutes a significant episode in the park’s rich history. And the story of the Paleozoic Museum with its scientific interest, political intrigue, and human drama, deserves to be publicly remembered. People love a story of vindication, especially one this old.
As the New York Times wrote about Hawkins’ museum plans in 1870, it was “adding another attraction to the people’s playground, and one which so well combining both novelty and instruction, will always make it an object of interest” – a sentiment that the monument would continue to evoke.
63rd St. & Central Park West