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Fossil replica will go on display for a year starting May 4

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FARMINGTON — The Farmington Museum at Gateway Park welcomed back an old friend today as Stan, a full-scale cast replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil, was reassembled in a museum gallery.

Stan — named for the individual who discovered him in Buffalo, South Dakota in 1987 — is part of the collection at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. But that institution has a new attraction opening in the gallery space normally occupied by Stan and needed to make room, so arrangements were made to have Stan make a return engagement at the Farmington Museum, where he did a six-month stay in 2014.

Farmington Museum director Bart Wilsey remembers Stan's first visit well.

"Hugely popular," was how he described it, explaining that during a special event celebrating the model's arrival in Farmington, Stan drew 800 gawkers in just two hours.

David Lundy, curator of exhibits at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, said it took a crew approximately seven hours to reassemble Stan today.

"Balance comes into play," he said. "There's a steel frame that supports him, and everything comes through the legs. You have to position it correctly so it doesn't want to topple backward or forward."

A complicating factor in his display at the Farmington Museum was the building's height. Stan is 35 feet from his nose to the tip of his tail, which the museum was able to accommodate easily. But his tail also stretches 20 feet into the air, and that means its tip extends into the building's rafters and past its lighting, just a few feet shy of the ceiling.

"We did know that was going to be a factor," Lundy said. "We shifted it around until we found a placement we wanted. It took a little finesse."

Lundy said he was pleased to see the T. rex replica return to Farmington, explaining that his museum's mission as a stage agency is to serve the entirety of New Mexico, not just Albuquerque.

"Anytime we have a chance to do outreach, that's good," he said.

Wilsey also was happy to see Stan return.

"It's fantastic," he said. "We are looking forward to it."

Stan will go on display for the public on May 4, and an event celebrating his return will be held a week later. The T. rex model will remain on display at the museum through May 2020, and there is no admission charge to see him. Call 505-599-1270 for details.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610.

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