Jurassic Genius David Wilson
Offbeat Museum Curator Wins Prestigious 'Genius Grant'

Listen to Lisa Simeone's report Take an audio tour of the Museum of Jurassic Technology

Oct. 27, 2001 -- For the last few years, the word “Jurassic” has evoked larger-than-life dinosaurs running amok in amusement parks. But at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, Ca., the term is used to describe a hands-on, offbeat historical experience -- with no virtual lizards in sight.

David Wilson

2001 MacArthur Fellow David Wilson

About the MacArthur Foundation

The John and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation provides grants to individuals and groups who work toward the "betterment of humanity."

The foundation awards grants in four major areas:
• Human and Community Development
• Global Security and Sustainability
• General Program
• MacArthur Fellows

Since 1981, the foundation has awarded unrestricted, five-year, $500,000 grants to individuals who meet the following criteria: "exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work."

The museum is the brainchild of David Wilson, who was recently named a 2001 MacArthur Fellow -- the so-called "genius grant." Wilson’s background is in film, and he’s produced commercials, special effects, industrial films and trailers. But in 1984, he created the first incarnation of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, with traveling collections for galleries, community centers and museums.

In 1988 he founded the museum’s first permanent facility in Culver City, in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Six years later, the museum opened a German branch -- the tochter (or daughter) museum at the Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum in Hagen, Westphalia.

The museum’s name is something of a non sequitur, and it's difficult to catagorize its focus. Its holdings are by no means limited to the Jurassic era -- or even natural history -- and there's precious little technology on display. Exhibits in the museum’s seven galleries range from the life and works of Athanasius Kircher -- the 17th century proprietor of one of the world’s first public museums of natural history -- to Charles Evan Fowler’s collection of Napoleonic relics.

In Depth

Weekend All Things Considered host Lisa Simeone talks to playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, another 2001 MacArthur fellow.

Other Resources

Information about MacArthur Fellows

Museum of Jurassic Technology Web site

The John and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a longtime supporter of National Public Radio.