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September 28, 2016

The Virginia Museum of Natural History has been awarded a $17,000 grant from the Helen S. and Charles G. Patterson, Jr., Charitable Foundation Trust for a new Ice Age display featuring a giant short-faced bear and dire wolf. This new exhibit will feature the extinct bear that stood over 11 feet tall and lived in Virginia during the last Ice Age, about 14,000 years ago. The dire wolf, an extinct wolf that is larger than modern wolves, also lived in Virginia during the same time period. The exhibit will be unveiled in the museum’s Harvest Foundation Hall of Ancient Life at the Ice Age Festival in January 2018.

“We are grateful to the Patterson Trust for its support of this new exhibit project,” said Dr. Alex Hastings, assistant curator of paleontology at VMNH. “The new skeletons will not only be impressive and eye-catching, but give visitors a taste of what Virginia was like during the last Ice Age, when these massive beasts were roaming the countryside.”

This upcoming exhibit is one of several recent and upcoming additions to the museum’s exhibit galleries, from a new predator and prey scene in the How Nature Works: Life exhibit to a Stegosaurus skeleton recently received from the Smithsonian that will be unveiled at the next Dino Day festival, July 21-22, 2017.

“We are very proud of the many exhibit updates and additions that have been accomplished in recent years,” said Ryan L. Barber, deputy director of VMNH. “Thanks to the generous support of individuals, companies and foundations, we are able to provide new exhibit experiences for visitors of all ages, with many more additions to be unveiled in the coming months and years.”

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, visit or email

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