When Jurassic Park first hit theaters way back in the summer of 1993, the world shouted with a single voice, “The T-rex is still the king of all beasts!”
It was just four years later, in the fall of 1997, that the Field Museum in Chicago paid $8.4 million to bring home SUE, the most complete and magnificent T-rex skeleton still in existence.
Over the years since, SUE has been intimidating toddlers and fascinating pre-historic beast lovers from the lobby of the Field’s main hall, becoming one of the biggest draws on the entire museum campus. Meanwhile, the 3D-modeled avatar of SUE has chilled IMAX movie viewers with her savage beauty.
Now, SUE is finding a new home in more ways than one. First of all, SUE’s profile stomped onto Twitter, where the @SUEtheTrex account is now making paleontology fun for a whole new generation of dinosaur fans. The clever and interactive tweets coming from SUE in the first person (first beast?) serve as a prime example of how museums everywhere can build on the excitement of popular exhibits to achieve a more active museum outreach on social media.
One aspect about SUE has changed significantly since the skeleton was first named after SUE Hendrickson, who discovered the bones in South Dakota. Scientific opinion has been divided on how to determine the sex of T-rex skeletons. Because of this, SUE isn’t referred to as “she” anymore, but with the neutral “they” pronoun, e.g. “SUE is a T. rex. They are a majestic murderbird, and Chicago is lucky they grace the city with their presence.”
In the real world, SUE’s bones are getting ready to travel again. SUE is moving upstairs to make room for the titanic skeleton of Patagotitan mayorum, a 122-foot-long ancient monster from Argentina.
SUE will be walking, not skulking anymore, in a private “suite”, The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, when their complete skeleton is reassembled in the spring of 2019.
Until then, look for SUE in cyberspace, on IMAX screens across the country and in a nearby Twitter newsfeed. Take a scroll through SUE’s recent tweets about the dismantling experience and imagine what this approach could do for marketing teams at similar museums all over the world.