TEXAS MEMORIAL MUSEUM, a part of UT’s Texas Natural Science Center
SUBJECT: cast-bronze saber-toothed cat statue to be installed at UT’s Texas Memorial Museum
FOR RELEASE: immediately through September 24, 2007
Today's Date: September 12, 2007
CONTACT: Susan Romberg
UT’s Texas Memorial Museum
Clint Howard, owner
Deep in the Heart Art Foundry in Bastrop
UT’s Texas Natural Science Center announces the installation and unveiling of the new cast-bronze sculpture of a saber-toothed cat at the Texas Memorial Museum.
Installation will be held on Monday, September 24 at 8:00am at the Texas Memorial Museum, located 2 blocks north of the UT football stadium at 2400 Trinity Street.
The sculpture was crafted by Texas Natural Science Center’s exhibit artist, John Maisano, who joins a handful of nationally renowned sculptors who have contributed to UT’s impressive collection of public artworks. This sculpture depicts a large male saber-toothed cat (scientific name: Smilodon fatalis) and is 1.25 times life size. It was cast in bronze by the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry in Bastrop.
Public unveiling of the sculpture will be held at the east entrance of the Texas Memorial Museum on Sunday, September 30 at 12:45pm. Donors of the sculpture, Austin philanthropists Sarah and Ernest Butler, will be in attendance.
Also on Sunday, September 30, from 1pm to 5pm at the Texas Memorial Museum: Family Fossil Fun Day event and the opening of the interactive learning center, Explore Evolution. FREE ADMISSION
FREE activities for Family Fossil Fun Day:
ongoing make crafts and see and touch real museum fossils
ongoing dig in the mini Dino Pit, and learn what it's like to be a paleontologist searching for fossils.
1:30 pm Tales from Our Family Tree, storytelling for the whole family
2:00 pm The case of the missing clam: you follow the forensic trail and gather evidence for the case, presented by Dr. Ann Molineux, Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory Collection Manager
3:00 pm Ice Age Mammals of Central Texas, a hands-on introduction to the mammals of the Pleistocene in Texas including saber-toothed cats, mammoths and giant ground sloths, presented by Dr. Pamela Owen, Texas Natural Science Center’s Senior Paleontology Educator.
About the new interactive learning center, Explore Evolution:
The interactive exhibit Explore Evolution gives visitors the opportunity to experience how scientists conduct their research on evolution and shows how evolution is fundamental to advances in science and medicine.
Through interactive displays, the exhibit focuses on seven research projects that have made a major contribution to our understanding of evolution, including: rapid evolution of the HIV virus; emergence of a new diatom (algae) species in the fossil record; fungus-growing ants and their coevolving partners; sexual selection among Hawaiian flies; Galapagos finches; genetic ties between humans and chimps; and fossil discoveries of walking whales.
About the saber-toothed cat, Smilodon (scientific name – Smilodon fatalis):
● It is a saber-toothed cat, not a saber-toothed tiger – Smilodon is a member of the cat family, but not closely related to tigers.
● It roamed much of North America during the Pleistocene Epoch and went extinct about 10,000 years ago.
● It is noted for its elongated upper canine teeth.
● It had a muscular body and stood about half a foot shorter at the shoulder than extant lions but was heavier, weighing an estimated 360 to 600 pounds.
● From the structure of the hyoid bones in the throat of Smilodon, we know it was capable of vocalizations, perhaps even a lion-like roar.
● Smilodon was an ambush predator, stalking its prey and then capturing it with powerful forelimbs equipped with retractile claws.
● It preyed on large herbivores such as bison, killing them with shallow, shear-bites to the throat and abdomen.
● It may have had a pride-like social structure similar to that of lions (unlike most cats, which are solitary hunters). Healed injuries in Smilodon bones suggest that life was not always peaceful. The cats had to struggle with large prey and may have fought with members of its own species or other predators over food, territories or mates.
About artist John Maisano:
John Maisano holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Fine Arts from Southern Connecticut State University (1989) and has extensive experience in computer arts, renaissance painting, airbrushing and theater set design. His work as a draftsman and construction manager for an architectural firm helped prepare him for a career as a museum exhibit artist. He spent 12 years working at Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History before coming to UT Austin in 2000. He works as Exhibit Designer at the Texas Memorial Museum, the exhibit hall of the Texas Natural Science Center, where he redesigned the Hall of Geology and Paleontology and participates in other exhibit projects. Maisano’s freelance jobs include a variety of large murals, molded and casted sculptural pieces and fossils, and logos created for a number of corporations and non-profits. He recently completed a larger-than-life-size bronze dinosaur sculpture commission for the Hartman Prehistoric Garden at Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin.
About Deep in the Heart Art Foundry:
Deep in the Heart Art Foundry was established in 1980 in Bastrop, Texas. Over the years, it has earned recognition as a small facility with excellent craftsmanship and a friendly staff. In 1999, the foundry was purchased by Heart of Texas Art Group, Inc. and began a period of tremendous expansion. In 2002, the foundry moved to a larger facility on a 4-acre tract in the Bastrop Industrial Park. Now, with more than 30 employees, clients from around the nation, and plans for a second expansion, the Deep in the Heart Art Foundry has truly become a leader in the bronze casting industry. http://www.deepintheheart.net/
Nationally renowned sculptors who have contributed to UT’s public collection:
1927 Anna Hyatt Huntington – Diana the Huntress
1933 Pompeo Coppini – The Littlefield Fountain
1948 Alexander Phimister Proctor – The Mustangs
1963 Charles Umlauf – The Family Group, Three Muses, and Torchbearers
Texas Memorial Museum is part of the Texas Natural Science Center at UT Austin. Regular museum hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. ALWAYS FREE ADMISSION. Located at 2400 Trinity Street (2 blocks north of the UT stadium).
About UT’s Texas Natural Science Center:
The Center encourages awareness of biological diversity through research, exhibits, and education/outreach and is made up of the Texas Memorial Museum, the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, the Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, and the Texas Natural History Collections. Our leading-edge research in the disciplines of paleontology, geology, biology, herpetology, ichthyology and entomology has amassed a $4-billion collection of 5.7 million specimens. All exhibits and education/outreach programs are based on these specimens, most of which are from Texas and many of which are unique and irreplaceable. Exhibits and educational programming spotlight evolution and biodiversity, dinosaurs and fossils, Texas wildlife, and gems and minerals. We welcome more than 75,000 visitors to our exhibit hall, the Texas Memorial Museum, annually. We are the leader in science education enrichment for Central Texas, with community outreach including teacher training workshops, school presentations reaching 700+ K-12 students each semester, public events that draw more than 8,000 visitors annually, partnerships with other science organizations, and a website featuring virtual exhibits with educational materials for teachers and leading-edge research data.