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Dinosaurs Debut At Universal Preservation Hall

A new family-friendly exhibit at Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs puts life-size sculptures of dinosaurs into motion.

UPH, the historic church-turned-performing arts center in downtown Saratoga Springs, has some new summer occupants of its main stage and reception area.

Fourteen life-size metallic dinosaurs are bobbing, chattering, and clanking as part of the exhibit Dinosaurs In Motion: Where Art and Science Meet.

At a preview, the children and family members of Proctors Collaborative staff got a sneak peak of the prehistoric beasts.

“I like how they interact. You can make them interact. And one I saw, you put your hand on something and then it made it move.”

Dinosaur enthusiast Anthony was scoping out the enormous metallic T-Rex with his siblings Mary Kate, Caroline, and mom, Maureen Musto.

“And then she’s afraid of all dinosaurs.”

“I am,” laughed Marueen. “I have a natural fear of dinosaurs.”

With the pull of a lever, the T. Rex, dazzled with colored overhead lighting, clamps its jaws.

“That scared me!”

UPH Executive Director Teddy Foster says the dinosaurs are the works of sculptor John Payne.

“And he made all of these out of recycled metal. And he made one – I think he made the T. Rex, was the first one that he made – and he got so into it, that that’s when he started to make more. And he partnered with Imagine Exhibitions and made them all moveable, and lights, and more interactive.”

Closed to traditional in-person performances, UPH last summer hosted an exhibit featuring 16 pinball machines, decorated with the likenesses of hard rock bands Kiss, AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses.

Foster says the mechanical dinosaurs are more geared to the entire family.

“We think this is much more interactive and will appeal to a wider market. It’s completely family friendly, from grandma and grandpa right down through the little kids. There’s so much to learn, it’s completely STEM related,” said Foster.

UPH opened its doors on February 29th, 2020 – two weeks before it went into lockdown during the onset of the pandemic.

Under the umbrella of the Proctors Collaborative, the pandemic forced arts organizations like UPH to find creative ways to use space.

While the exhibit filled with interactive dinosaurs is a new direction for Proctors, CEO Philip Morris says it fits with UPH’s mission.

“When we first did the renovation, one of the things we thought about was, how in the summer during track season, there’s so much music, normally – pre-COVID – so that, probably, we shouldn’t try to compete with it. So we always thought that we would do an exhibitor during the summer before we started a fall season of music again, so this not actually out of context of our original thinking,” said Morris.

Dinosaurs In Motion: Where Art and Science Meet runs through October 17th at Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs. 

For more information visit: https://universalpreservationhall.org/event/dinos-in-motion/

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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