Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History visitors shouldn't expect to see mega-sized dinosaur bones or the newly arrived fossil superstar Tyrannosaurus rex any time soon. The museum's Fossil Halls closed Monday for a five-year, $48 million renovation -- the biggest in the museum's history -- that will change not only the physical space but also the way it presents the planet's fossil timeline.
Exhibitions at the Washington, D.C., museum that haven't changed in three decades -- Life in the Ancient Seas, Dinosaurs and Ice Ages -- will be dismantled to make way for what will be called Deep Time Hall. And T. Rex will get its own place of prominence too.
"The National Fossil Hall is now closed and our deinstallation work begins in earnest," a post on Deep Time at the Smithsonian's Facebook page said Monday.
Smithsonian magazine says the new exhibition will present a timeline that starts "with the most recent past -- the Ice Age, during which humans actually lived -- and travel backward in time to the primordial Earth." The renovation also will remove some false walls to restore the building's original Beaux-Arts architecture, the story says.
The new 31,000-square-foot-hall will be named for Texas industrialist and philanthropist David H. Koch, who kicked in $35 million toward the renovation. Fans packed the Fossil Halls over the weekend to get a last glance of the exhibits until 2019.
In the interim, the museum will host an "Augmented Reality Dinosaurs" in late May that creates virtual creatures with which guests can interact, and display a triceratops and other bones in "The Last American Dinosaurs," which opens Nov. 25.