"I think, as all of you know, presidents from time to time have to make decisions that aren't particularly popular.  One of those decisions for me was, most certainly, my decision to reduce funding for the Geological Museum in 2009.  At that time and for a variety of reasons I made an unpopular decision.  But with that decision came a pledge, that we would find a way to revitalize the Geology Museum in the months and the years to come."

That's how UW President Tom Buchanan began his speech at the ribbon cutting ceremony for a newly remodeled University of Wyoming Geology Museum.

After its first makeover in nearly 60 years, the University of Wyoming’s Geological Museum has reopened to the public.

While much of the work done over the past eight months-modernizing of the mechanical, electrical, lighting and fire protection systems - won’t be obvious to most visitors, UW officials say that visitors will definitely see improvements in the venerable museum’s layout and presentation.

The remodeling is the first phase of a project aimed at making the museum a focal point for student and faculty research, while giving the public an appreciation of Wyoming’s geologic history and mineral resources.

Museum supporters say that they are particularly proud of a new display featuring a new mural that shows what Wyoming looked like in the Late Cretaceous -- along with casts of fossilized skulls of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Triceratops. The exhibit, crafted by designer Terry Chase of Chase Studios Inc., represents the type of display museum supporters hope to develop throughout the facility.

The center island of the museum continues to feature “Big Al,” the Allosaurus, and an Apatosaurus mounted by Samuel H. “Doc” Knight, the notable geologist, professor and early curator of the museum.  A cast of a Stegosaurus, discovered near Medicine Bow, was moved from its former location upstairs to a prominent spot on the downstairs wall.

The Geological Museum project was funded, in part, through proceeds of an endowment of about $570,000 established by retired UW professor Brainerd “Nip” Mears and his wife, Anne, which was doubled to $1.14 million by state matching funds. Their contribution is a tribute to Knight, who was Mears' mentor. A patio bench was also unveiled in honor of Brainerd and Anne Mears.

Museum supporters emphasize that more private support is needed, particularly for upgraded exhibits in the newly remodeled display spaces.