GREYBULL — It only takes a few minutes to drive through the small town of Greybull, Wyoming, but in that short drive you're passing through millions of years of history.
So much history that two of the town's museums, the Greybull Museum and the Bighorn Basin Dinosaur and Geoscience Museum, are full beyond capacity.
"We're just trying to raise the flag and wave it and tell people how incredible our area is," said Dr. Erik Kvale, President of the BHBDGM.
The Bighorn Dinosaur and Geoscience Museum showcases some of the biggest findings of the Jurassic Period found in the Bighorn Basin over a century of excavations.
“We have some of the most iconic ones and some of the most complete ones," Dr. Kvale said. "Wyoming is great at exporting. Our fossils have been exported all over the world."
Down the road, the Greybull Museum has a diverse collection of human and natural history artifacts acquired throughout the museum's 60 years in town.
“We have this fabulous lithics display that tells more about the Native American culture," said Cheryl Hunt, President of the Board of Directors of Greybull Museum. "We have old history things, old irons, lots of WWI and WWII things. So it's a general collection of life in this area over the past history.”
A burst pipe and flood last winter at the Greybull Museum forced some much-needed renovations but also sparked conversations about the future of the museum.
"So clear back in last January, we were talking about we need more room," Hunt said. "We can't show all of the cool things we have. There's just not enough space."
"We started talking about that and then we were approached by the Geoscience Center saying, we think we can get some really cool dinosaur casts from dinosaurs from here, and we need a place to house them.”
Hatching one big idea for a way to bring in visitors from all around the world to see the town and its history.
"Our goal is to expand that museum together," said Nolan O'Neal, Director of the BHBDGM.
O'Neal says they would build a 3,000 sq. ft. expansion onto the Greybull Museum campus and build several interactive and educational displays around four major dinosaur fossils that were found in the region and sent to museums across the world.
"To get those displays in there with the history of the digs, the quarries, maps of the things that are accessible so people can recreate, take the hikes and explore it and make it real and make it live," O'Neal said.
The four major dinosaur skeletons would include a stegosaurus housed in the London Museum of Natural History and the world's only model of an allosaurus with a nest of eggs, which is currently on display at the Smithsonian Museum.
On Tuesday, Kvale and O'Neal announced to the Bighorn Co. county commissioners that the campaign had raised enough money to buy rights of the casting for egg-laying allosaurus display, done in a partnership with the Smithsonian itself.
"We're going to reconstruct that and let people know it'll be only the second display like that anywhere in the world," Dr. Kvale said.
“We're so excited and kind of overwhelmed by all the positive things that just keep kind of happening in this wave of renovation and revitalization. It's incredible," said Shaylah Spragg, Manager of the Greybull Museum.
Right now, the museum team is working on fundraising and getting other towns and museums on board. Their goal is to raise $400,000 to bring the dinosaurs home.
"A big part of our outreach is to pump people up and say, we are at a unique point. We've got connections to world-class institutions. We have the scientific background, we've got the technical background of how you generate funds. We've got the enthusiasm from both our board as well as the Greybull Museum board. We can do this as a community.”
Both museums are eager to share their ideas. You can learn more about the Bighorn Basin Dinosaur and Geoscience Museum and the capital campaign at https://www.bighornbasindinos.org/
To learn more about the Greybull Museum, you can visit their website at https://www.greybullwyomingmuseum.org/