The Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Beloved Dinosaur, Creation Rex
June 26, 2017
It has been 66 million years since dinosaurs roamed the earth, but that changed for the city of Pittsburgh in 2003. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s signature dino, “Creation Rex,” started his fascinating journey over 15 years ago in 2002. He has had quite the voyage to get where he is today.
This event not only promoted the city of Pittsburgh and artistic community, but also brought awareness to The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which hosted the event, and is one of the leading museums both nationally and internationally for dinosaurs. More than 125 artists brought 101 dinosaurs to life in creative, fun, and educational ways. Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the three dinosaurs that The Art Institute of Pittsburgh sponsored. Rex was art-directed by faculty member, Stephen Butler. Rex has a smooth fiberglass shell with steel reinforcement. The sculpture we see today is a 1" coating of hand laid ApoxySculpt and weighs 750 pounds. From start to finish, this project was an eleven-month process, per Jen Hitchcock, Industrial Design Coordinator for The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Rex’s home after the exhibit remained outside of the previous 420 Boulevard of the Allies location of the college for 14 years! Throughout his time there, Rex was dressed and decorated to represent many occasions including holidays, Pittsburgh professional sports teams, and city-wide events. He cheered on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl wins of 2006 and 2009, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Stanley Cup wins of 2009 and 2016, and even donned a Lady Gaga inspired look for one of her Pittsburgh concerts. Rex had his own newsletter and even a Twitter page for a period of time. The students made costumes, newsletters, and blogs were overseen by Patty Nagle, former Service Bureau manager.
Creation Rex now resides in the foyer of the first floor at Ai Pittsburgh’s new location on 1400 Penn Avenue in the iconic Strip District. Thanks to the Industrial Design Coordinator, Jen Hitchcock, and our Entertainment and Industrial Design students, Rex went from a brown and Jurassic green color to a new vibrant orange hue, just in time for his move to his new home here in the Strip. We are proud to call Creation Rex our unofficial mascot and can’t wait to see all of the new adventures that await him here on Penn Avenue!
“’Creation Rex’ [was] the collaborative effort of a team of artists which [at the time included] Bill Farrell, Industrial Design Faculty Member, Phelan McDonald, Industrial Design student, Desiree Roy, an animator associated with Home Run Pictures, and Alan Hammack, Media Arts & Animation Student. Each contributed countless hours toward the artistic development of the creature, which boasts a photo-realistic surface that was hand sculpted and painted by Phelan McDonald.”
Jen Hitchcock, Industrial Design Coordinator, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh