Twentieth Century Dinosaurs Return to Tallahassee Museum

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – August 26, 2011 –

In 1993, a unique, widely-acclaimed large-scale traveling exhibit made its Southeastern U.S. debut amid fanfare and the amazement of families, children, scores of dinosaur fanatics and auto enthusiasts at the Tallahassee Museum -- a living museum offering engaging experiences focused on North Florida’s natural environment, native wildlife and cultural history. 18 Years later, Jim Gary’s Twentieth Century Dinosaurs is returning to the Tallahassee Museum in October as a long-term attraction after traveling the world for years. Some of the 21 exhibit pieces span as much as 43 feet in length and weigh up to 4,000 pounds. Gary, a renowned artist and creator, crafted hundreds of other abstract metal works for more than three decades before passing away in 2006.

“The special bond formed between Tallahassee Museum and Jim Gary began when the exhibit made its first stop here in 1993,” said Russell S. Daws, executive director/chief executive officer at the Museum. “Jim and I began our working relationship during his first museum show at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia in 1979. When I relocated to Tallahassee, I knew we needed to bring his amazing show to town, and we kept in touch up until his passing. We always knew we wanted to bring Jim Gary’s Twentieth Century Dinosaurs back to Tallahassee, where it is a natural fit for our outdoor environment. Now, with his passing and the establishment of the Jim Gary Foundation, we are honored to serve as the long-term home of his work. We look forward to caring for the collection with care and the respect it deserves while keeping Jim’s legacy alive by educating and entertaining Tallahassee residents and visitors for years to come.”

Gary himself, who fashioned each work using thousands of parts reclaimed from junked automobiles of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, created every piece featured in the exhibit. A completely self-taught artist, he scoured junkyards across the country and welded each piece by hand with painstaking precision and accuracy before painting his creations in shockingly bright and beautiful colors. Often noted as saying, “Old Chryslers make the finest dinosaurs,” his remarkable intricate creations continue to inspire and entertain audiences.

According to Arlene Berg, Gary’s longtime friend, former business manager and current president of the Jim Gary Foundation, “He created hundreds of works throughout the years, ranging from huge to tabletop size, and his larger pieces sold for more than $150,000. While not on tour, traveling the world on flat-bed trucks {also custom-made by Gary}, his works often found a place in his front yard, where he welcomed guests and admirers throughout the years. When the artwork was on the move, his sculpture mesmerized motorists and pedestrians, effectively becoming mobile museums.”

Jim Gary’s Twentieth Century Dinosaurs has garnered innumerable attention from national broadcast media throughout the years including features on the Discovery Channel, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN News and Ripley’s Believe it or Not in addition to print feature articles in The New York Times, The Boston Herald, The New Yorker, Smithsonian and The Los Angeles Times. International acclaim has come from sources such as the Tokyo Asahi, Paris Herald Tribune and German Lebens Art, and the exhibit has also graced the covers of publications such as National Geographic World. When arranged in a large outdoor pre-historic trail at the Tallahassee Museum, the long-term exhibit will create a perfect model for blending history, creativity, art and recycling in a unique, educational and entertaining way, which is easily-accessible to Tallahassee residents and visitors.

Notably, exhibitions of his works have taken place in every region of the United States in prestigious collections such as the National Academy of Design in New York City, Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Field Museum in Chicago as well as the Smithsonian Institution and

National Museum of Natural History. Major museums in locations such as Boston, Denver, Los Angeles and others have displayed his sculpture stateside, while museums in Australia, China and Japan have spread his influence across the world.

On a more personal level, Gary’s sculptures have made an impact upon thousands of young people throughout the years, as he routinely made guest appearances on popular children’s television shows, gave lectures in schools throughout the country and inspired young minds at scores of children’s museums and other events. Gary felt that it was very important for him to work with young people, especially children, to stimulate their creativity and to help them recognize that they can achieve great things regardless of their backgrounds as long as they put their mind to it and worked hard.

Other items crafted by Gary included furniture, lamps, extensive stained glass works, abstract art and the famous Universal Woman, a sculpture of the female form composed entirely of metal washers, which received acclaim as part of numerous art exhibitions. He was also commissioned to create art in many public spaces throughout the country including the Sept. 11 Memorial in his longtime city of residence, Colts Neck, N.J. Gary moved to New Jersey with his family shortly after his birth in Florida.

Following an extensive refurbishment, Jim Gary’s Twentieth Century Dinosaurs will make its Tallahassee return debut at the 19th annual Zoobilee, a fundraising event held at the Tallahassee Museum on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011. The exhibit will open to the public the following day on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 and will be included in the regular admission price to the museum.

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