Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio
|Location||Trelew, Patagonia (Argentina)|
|Collection size||More than 17,000 fossils|
|Visitors||70,000 (yearly average, last 5 years)|
The Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio (MEF, in Spanish: Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio) is a science research and exhibition center in Trelew city, Patagonia (Argentina). Its permanent and travelling exhibitions focus on the fossils remains from fauna and flora of Patagonia, as well as the geological changes that affected the region throughout prehistory. The museum is named for Egidio Feruglio.
MEF is also one of Argentina's main scientific institutions, with a robust research program in areas such as Vertebrate and Invertebrate Paleontology, Paleobotany, and Ichnology. It also has a group focusing on plants in semi-desert environments.
MEF's permanent exhibition is a journey into the natural past of Patagonia. It begins about 10,000 years ago, with the first human settlements in the area. In each room, specimens from both terrestrial and marine life forms are shown for each geological period, up to the early Paleozoic. The Mesozoic hall depicting the giant dinosaurs of Patagonia is perhaps the most popular attraction in the museum. The journey goes on at the mini-theatre with a film showing the evolution of the Universe back to the Big Bang itself.
The exhibition also offers a view into MEF's largest, state-of-the-art Preparation Laboratory, where fossils are carefully cleaned and separated from its surrounding rock. Visitors can here witness the progress of actual work done on the most recent fossils findings.
The traveling exhibition featuring the "Dinosaurs of Patagonia" has visited many cities in Argentina and abroad. A recent European tour included Germany, Spain, Portugal, and the Czech Republic. Individual replicates have been provided to museums in different countries.
Bryn Gwyn Geopark
MEF also administers the Bryn Gwyn Geopark, a large natural geological reserve located 8 km South of Gaiman, and about 25 km from Trelew. The park is located on the slanted lands that separate the Chubut River valley from the higher Pataognian steppe. The trail depicts typical fossils (both real and replicates) dating up to 40 million years ago.
MEF is an "Associated Research Unit" to Argentina's National Research Council (CONICET), a qualification attained by very few local NGOs. Almost all of MEF researchers and postdoctoral fellows are career scientists working under CONICET.
The Museum's research area includes a Collection with more than 17,000 fossils (as of 2009), preparation laboratory and campaign equipment. It also has a workshop for fossil replicate production, used both in research and exhibitions.
Outreach and educational programs
The Museum's outreach department includes activities for families, schools and the global community. Some recent examples include:
- Open house: free admission and special activities during one weekend of June.
- Paleodesafío: a knowledge-based competition on Paleontology, Geology and Astronomy for secondary schools in the Chubut province.
- Explorers in Pyjamas: children spend the night in the Museum, playing, learning, and, finally, sleeping with the dinosaurs in the exhibition.
- Café Scientifique: a cup of coffee and an informal conversation with a scientist.
MEF scientists also visit schools or advise teachers and students on related educational projects. The museum's website and Facebook network offer tourist information, non-technical articles, educational resources, etc.