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January-February 2017

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The Museum at Black Hills Institute, Hill City, South Dakota

You've been to them—multifloored mega-museums filled with thousands, sometimes millions, of treasures from around the world. In the most advanced facilities, displays are augmented with interactives, giant screens, and cutting-edge technology, often monitored by docents in matching jackets. These repositories of our most precious objects preserve a record of our world, whether cultural, technological, or natural. And they are not alone. Modest, one-room exhibitions found in small towns across the world do their jobs, as well. They might celebrate an era, a community, or an individual. All museums, regardless of size or scope, have one thing in common. Someone couldn't help but to collect those objects. Someone had to preserve them.

Peter Larson, a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals, is president of Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, Inc., and one of the world's most prominent T. rex scientists. He gained notoriety as the champion of the fossil Sue; he continues to work toward improved fossil collecting regulations.

Kristin Donnan, a freelance writer, became an “accidental amateur paleontologist” when she collaborated with Larson on Rex Appeal, the seminal book on the most significant legal case in paleontological history; she also works in film and other media.

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