Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway at the Burke

I finally got to check out the Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway exhibit at the Burke Museum on Thursday night. Fossils and Ray Troll’s artwork – you have to check this out if live in or are coming to Seattle by May 31, and with free First Thursdays, even if you’re broke, there’s no excuse.


Cruisin’ the fossil freeway, by Ray Troll. On view in Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway, December 19, 2009 – May 3, 2010, Burke Museum, Seattle.

The Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway exhibit combines Ray Troll’s artwork with some of the fossils that inspired them, giving a sometimes whimsical look at what they’d look like if they were still roving around.

Ray talks about his artistic process in the video below:

Ray Troll collaborated with paleontologist Kirk Johnson in creating the exhibit and the book by the same title that preceded it. According to the exhibit’s website, the dynamic duo took “5,000-mile road trip through the American West . . . to explore the fossil record.”

Here they are hunting for fossils on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state:

One of the things that really struck me from the exhibit was that these fossils are all around us, often buried in ever deeper layers going back millions of years; of all these animals that once were wandering around like we are amidst plants now long gone as well.

I checked out the rest of the museum as well, including the ongoing Life and Times of Washington State, more fossils and reconstructions of dinosaurs and other species long gone.  Even the 10,000 year old mastodon is quite ancient, then there’s a 28 million year old whale (hopefully we won’t make them extinct in our lifetime), and a 140 million year old allosaurus. Wow, that really makes you think how short our time on earth is.

For some reason I was really drawn to the dinosaurs and especially the elasmosaur, a sea creature that must be the inspiration (or maybe grandsire of) the Loch Ness monster.

Here’s a video about a elasmosaur found in Canada from the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta:

There’s a photo of the Burke’s elasmosaur on their blog entry:

Love the periscope looking out at it! I didn’t notice the periscope when I was walking along on the other side, but saw it moving while I was looking at Nessie, er the elasmosaur. . .


Dinosaur highway, by Ray Troll. On view in Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway, December 19, 2009 – May 3, 2010, Burke Museum, Seattle.

Check out the Cruisin’ the Fossil Highway exhibit while you can at the Burke through the end of May.  According to the website, it will be traveling nationally after that, maybe cruisin’ to a museum near you!


Burke Museum:

Cruisin’ the Fossil Highway:

Ray Toll:

Ray Troll t-shirts, pins, refrigerator magnets, etc. also available at the Burke. I may have gotten in for free, but I couldn’t resist buying a refrigerator magnet in the design of the first picture on top. No doubt I’ll be back!


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