For Immediate Release

Sophie Nassif 412.456.3472

  October 1, 2002

First of 100 Adorned Dinosaurs Makes DinoMite Debut in Pittsburgh
T. rex and Other Painted Replicas to Transform Streets, Parks, Plazas

PITTSBURGH, PA — A Tyrannosaurus rex of a dramatically different color made its "DinoMite" debut today. Hand-painted by artist Patricia Bellan-Gillen, the 250-pound T. rex is the first of 100 decorated fiberglass dinosaur replicas that will add a splash of prehistoric panache to Pittsburgh's parks, plazas and public streets. The rest of the dinosaurs will paint the town in May 2003 when DinoMite Dayssm - a once-in-a-lifetime event - premieres as the world's most colorful outdoor dino art gallery.

Standing seven-feet tall, the T. rex was officially hatched today outside Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which is launching DinoMite Days with major funding from the Laurel Foundation of Pittsburgh. Adults and children at the prehistoric preview were delighted when the T. rex, a scientifically accurate replica with artistic license, emerged from an oversized crate that kept his colorful personality under wraps. Bellan-Gillen, the first artist selected to paint a DinoMite Days original, unveiled her creation, whose theme is "Connections." The green T. rex is decorated with animal images, such as monkeys, butterflies and crabs, and a human handprint, all connected by leafy branches and vines that cover the T. rex from top to bottom. The T. rex is located near Dippy the Dinosaur and will remain outside the museum through September 2003.

"This terrific T. rex combines artistic expression and natural history to cast dinosaurs in a whole new light," said Susie Perelman, co-chairperson of DinoMite Days. "Today starts the official countdown to DinoMite Days, a visually stunning outdoor exhibit that will entice people of all ages to discover the beauty of dinosaurs, science and art."

Due to rising interest in the event, Perelman announced that DinoMite Days is searching for more artists who are ready for their first brush with a dinosaur. The application deadline for artists has been extended to October 15, 2002.

Artists wishing to lend their talents to DinoMite Days can access online application forms and guidelines at The forms are also available at local art galleries, cultural organizations and coffee shops throughout Pittsburgh.

An art jury comprised of representatives from Pittsburgh art organizations reviews and selects the artists, who are given four to six weeks to complete their dinosaurs.

For Bellan-Gillen, a nationally acclaimed artist from Burgettstown, Pa., painting the T. rex was a challenging and fun project.

"Nature was my inspiration for this design. I wanted to convey the connections that all living things have through nature," said Bellan-Gillen. "The design also plays tribute to the museum itself - to its commitment to the natural sciences and education."

Fourth-grade students from Burgettstown Area Elementary School painted self-portraits that Bellan-Gillen incorporated into an urn that is attached to the T. rex. There was a family connection in the project - her husband, Vince Gillen - teaches the pint-sized Picassos.

Born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, Bellan-Gillen received the prestigious Dorothy L. Stubnitz Professor of Art award in 2001 for her dedication and achievements as a professor of art at Carnegie Mellon University. Her paintings and prints have been featured in more than 23 solo exhibitions throughout the United States. Bellan-Gillen spent six weeks working in her Burgettstown barn-turned-studio to give her T. rex a personality of its own.

Laurel Foundation of Pittsburgh, a private philanthropic organization, is providing major funding for the free public art exhibit.

"We believe that DinoMite Days will draw new visitors to the region, exposing them to a community rich with history and culture," said Donna Panazzi, vice president of Laurel Foundation. "From the world-class dinosaur exhibit here at Carnegie Museum of Natural History to Pittsburgh's picturesque parks and floral gardens, the City is brimming with vitality. We're thrilled to partner with the Museum on DinoMite Days, and to help raise funds for Carnegie Museum of Natural History and for other nonprofit organizations, through the sponsorship-and later, the auction-of the dinosaurs."

Sponsors can choose from three different types of dinosaurs - a Tyrannosaurus rex, a Torosaurus or a Stegasaurus. All are designed and manufactured by Research Casting International of Ontario, Canada with fiberglass produced by PPG Industries.

Each dinosaur will feature a plaque with the names of the sponsor and artist. To become a DinoMite Days "sponsaur," contact Ted Hermann, director of marketing for Carnegie Museum of Natural History, at (412) 622-3328 or via e-mail at

Sponsors select a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to receive half of the proceeds once the dinosaur is auctioned in October 2003. The remaining proceeds will be used for renovation and expansion of Carnegie Museum of Natural History's dinosaur exhibits.

The Pittsburgh Art Commission is working with the museum to help select public sites across the Pittsburgh region for the DinoMite Days dinosaurs. The locations will be announced in late 2002 and a "DinoMap" will be prepared for the exhibit.

Dr. Bill DeWalt, director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History, said, "This T. rex connects art, natural history and science in a fun and creative way that brings our mission to life. We expect DinoMite Days to make a strong connection with tourists and local residents alike."

About Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Founded in 1895, Carnegie Museum of Natural History ranks among the six largest natural history museums in the United States, with more than 20 million specimens, objects and artifacts. The museum is the world's third-largest repository of dinosaur fossils and contains one of the world's greatest collections of publicly displayed dinosaur skeletons, as well as one of the foremost collections of gems and minerals. The museum is a distinguished research institution and a dynamic, family-friendly destination.

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