Smithsonian's Dinosaur Hall Closes for Five-Year Renovation

The dinosaur hall at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History has closed for a five-year renovation.

Crowds packed the hall on its last weekend as kids and grow-up visitors alike clamored for a last glimpse at the collection before the hall undergoes a $48 million renovation -- its first comprehensive redo since it opened more than a century ago.

The new hall will include a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, one of the most complete ever discovered. The T. rex arrived earlier this month with great fanfare and some assembly required. (I.e., it arrived in 16 separate boxes).

The museum will take the next five years to overhaul the space and get that long-awaited T. rex mounted as the centerpiece of the new gallery. The Rex Room -- where scientists are scanning, studying and mounting the T. rex bones -- will remain open, and a temporary dinosaur exhibit will open later this year.

In the meantime, parents will have to figure out what else to do with their kids during those prime dinosaur-fascination years.

"Glad we took my son recently; he talks about it every day," Mary Perez-Casas told NBC Washington. "Five years? He probably [won't be] interested [any] more."

Chris Hobbs told us, "Zoo, presidential monuments, and war memorials will be our focus for visits to D.C. with the kids."

While pieces of the exhibition have been updated in the past, and this will its the first comprehensive re-imagining since it opened in the early days of paleontology, said Museum Director Kirk Johnson.

The current gallery, officially called the National Fossil Hall, started out as the Hall of Extinct Monsters when the museum opened in 1910.

"There's so many things that have happened in science in the last 100 years that this will be a great new hall," he said earlier this month.

David H. Koch donated $35 million for the new dinosaur hall in 2012.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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