Mantua Township will be the setting for Rowan University’s Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park Museum, where guests will see fossils from the dinosaurs’ last moments on Earth.
Expected to open in spring of 2024, the museum is being built into a former quarry off Woodbury-Glassboro Road, behind the Lowe’s, in the Sewell section of Mantua. Fossils are estimated to be at least 66 million years old, according to the facility’s website.
“Research at the site – led by Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, fossil park director and founding dean of Rowan’s School of Earth and Environment – will shed light on what led to the world’s fifth mass extinction,” the website notes, “during which the dinosaurs (except for birds) and 75 percent of species went extinct. A pivotal, calamitous moment that paved the way for the modern world.
“The museum will feature immersive exhibits galleries, full-scale reconstructions of extinct creatures, hands-on learning experiences, live animal attractions, virtual reality, connections to the natural world, and gathering spaces to build community around the themes of exploration, discovery, and responsible stewardship of our planet,” the site added.
The partnership with Rowan and Mantua for the park, according to Mayor Robert Zimmerman, has been more than 10 years in the making.
“Lacovara, paleontologist and dean of the school of Earth and Environment at Rowan, has been working on this project for more than a decade,” Zimmerman explained. “It’s already put Mantua on the map, and will pay huge dividends by creating jobs, boosting our local economy and educating our children.”
Construction for the project is currently underway.
“Over the next several months,” Zimmerman noted, “you’ll continue to see work crews creating the main entranceway to the park, which is located between the Lowe’s and Target on Woodbury-Glassboro Road. We don’t expect this to create any hindrance to traffic in this area.”
The fossil park is named after two Rowan alumni benefactors, the Edelmans, who donated $25 million to help finance construction for both the park and museum, according to its website. It was the largest gift ever from Rowan University alumni and the second largest in its history.
The museum is expected to draw an estimated 200,000 visitors per year.