“Scotty”, the nine ton, 13-meter-tall tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is the largest of its kind in the world. However, it was too tall to stand upright in the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM), its current home.
Rather than commission a new building or an extension to house Scotty, government and museum staff chose to carve out a new two-story space inside their current building, from the basement up through the main floor to the ceiling. Doing so allowed them to leave the surrounding park lands undisturbed and preserve the character of the 1955 Royal Saskatchewan Museum while adding a modern exhibit.
The traditional demolition method of jackhammering is out of the question at a museum, as vibration can damage delicate artifacts. However, demolition was required if Scotty was going to continue to reside at the museum. Together with the concrete-cutting contractor, structural steel contractor and structural engineer, we devised a plan to reinforce the structure, cut out sections of floor, and remove joists in a way that didn’t cause excessive vibration and maintained the structural integrity of the building.
Two other considerations when cutting a large portion of the museum floor were:
- Dust control – We built dust-control partitions and venting similar to those we use when working in hospitals to keep artifacts safe.
- Visitors – Museum management examined a detailed scheduled that compared the effects of closing the building with keeping it open throughout construction. When they saw the reduced risk to museum visitors, as well as the time (and therefore budget) savings associated with temporarily closing the facility, they opted to close the building to visitors for four weeks, a momentous decision at a building normally open 363 days a year.
The renovation allows the exhibit to reside at RSM for a very long time, though maybe not as long as Scotty’s been around.