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September 22, 2014

The Virginia Museum of Natural History has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Helen S. and Charles G. Patterson, Jr., Charitable Foundation Trust for a new Smilodon fatalis, or saber-toothed cat exhibit.  This new exhibit will travel to selected museums, libraries and other venues statewide before being placed on display in the museum’s Harvest Foundation Hall of Ancient Life in late 2015.

This new exhibit will feature a scientifically accurate cast of the skeleton of Smilodon, which lived in what is now Virginia during the Pleistocene epoch, from 2.5 million years ago to 10,000 years ago.  In addition to the skeletal display, the exhibit will also feature educational materials and interactive signage that will provide visitors with vital lessons in anatomy and physiology.

“We are grateful to the Patterson Trust for support of this exciting new exhibit project,” said Ryan L. Barber, deputy director of VMNH.  “This new display will greatly enhance visitors’ experiences, providing a look at one of the most fascinating animals believed to have lived in what is now Virginia until the last ice age.”

With its capability to be traveled to other venues along with being on display at VMNH, the exhibit is an important component of the museum’s ongoing “Museum Without Walls” program which includes goals and objectives designed to expand the museum’s reach statewide.  Museum staff, trustees and foundation board members are currently developing the next phase of the program, “Museum Without Walls 2015-2020.”

“The Smilodon will be an eye-catching ambassador for our state-wide efforts, with its permanent lair being right here in our exhibits in Martinsville,” said Dr. Joe B. Keiper, executive director of VMNH. “Our staff will mount and pose the cast skeleton in a custom fashion, making this a unique draw to our Starling Avenue facility.”

The Helen S. and Charles G. Patterson, Jr., Charitable Foundation Trust was established in 1997 by Helen S. and Charles G. Patterson, life-long residents of Virginia.

For more information about the museum and its permanent, special and traveling exhibits program, please visit or email

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