20,243. That is the astounding number of people who have come to Glendive to visit the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum since May 2009 as of August 2, 2011. That is more than four times the Glendive population according to the 2010 census which put the town at 4,935 people – and the flow of visitors does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, museum director Otis Kline initially projected hitting the 20,000 visitor mark later this year and kept adapting the projected date several times as the visitor numbers increased quickly this summer. The last week of July, Kline was out in the field on a dig, expecting to hit the 20,000 number around August 4 but when he returned, he discovered the facility had already passed the milestone.
Many visitors come to Glendive specifically to visit the museum. Kline is quick to point out that they stay in area hotels, eat in area restaurants, buy local gas, and shop at local stores. The museum is not part of the dinosaur trail, however museum volunteers and staff gladly refer visitors to other dinosaur attractions in the area including Makoshika State Park which hosts a dinosaur trail museum and the downtown Glendive Makoshika Dinosaur Museum. Some visitors come back as volunteers.
This summer, one of those visitors transformed into volunteers was NASA launch specialist Alfred Menendez. Menendez learned about the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil museum through his daughter. When she was in high school, she held an interest in paleontology. She is now in college and interning at the museum this summer. Menendez and his wife took three weeks from his post at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to give time to the Glendive facility.
Glendive Mayor Jerry Jimison welcomes activities that make Glendive a destination for visitors. Mayor Jimison said that he is excited to hear that the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum has hit a historic level of visitors and noted the museum along with Makoshika State Park and Paddlefishing contribute to that goal. State numbers suggest that each visitor spends an average of $281 per visit. $20,243 visitors translates into over $5,688,000 infused into the regional economy.
The Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum broke ground in 2005. Many in the community saw it as a Noah’s Ark – a big dream they doubted would ever open. When it finally did open in May of 2009, the 20,000 square foot $1.5 million dollar building opened debt-free with high quality big-city exhibits explaining creation science at all levels from elementary concepts to materials for educators and scientists. In addition to traditional museum services, the facility also offers the opportunity to experience hands-on dinosaur digs.
More information about exhibits and events at the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum can be found at http://creationtruth.org.