The Museum of Osteology, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., is a private museum devoted to the study of bones and skeletons (osteology). This museum displays over 450 skeletons of animal species from all over the world.[1] With another 7,000 specimens as part of the collection, but not on display, this is the largest privately held collection of osteological specimens in the world.[2][3][4] The museum is an entity of its parent company, Skulls Unlimited International.

SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology (Oklahoma City)
Students outside of museum
Museum of Osteology is located in Oklahoma
Museum of Osteology
Location in Oklahoma
LocationOklahoma City, United States
Coordinates35°21′55″N 97°26′33″W / 35.3654°N 97.4426°W / 35.3654; -97.4426
TypeNatural history museum
Collection size7,000+ skeletal specimens
DirectorJay Villemarette
OwnerJay Villemarette

Overview Edit

The museum focuses on the form and function of the skeletal system with numerous educational and taxonomic displays featuring all five vertebrate classes.[4]

The collections housed by the Museum of Osteology are the result of over 40 years of collecting by Jay Villemarette.[5]

Currently, the collections consist of approximately 7,000 specimens representing over 1,800 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.[6]

The museum hosts a multitude of fun educational opportunities and events for all ages.[7][8] According to the website, one of the main goals of these programs is to make people excited about the natural world and inspire conservation efforts.

There are also many opportunities for museum guests to touch real bone and take pictures with fully articulated skeletons.[9]

Since its opening, over 500,000 guests from all over the world have come to the museum to see the displays, fill out scavenger hunts, explore the collection for research papers, and pick up commemorative items from the gift shop.

Ethics Edit

The museum does not support or condone poaching or any other illegal hunting practice.[10] All the specimens are ethically sourced.[11] The Museum of Osteology partners with zoos, aquariums, wildlife centers, nature preserves, sportsmen, and private donators to make sure the animals are treated with respect and are properly taken care of after death.[12] The museum also receives donations from human donor programs.

History Edit

Museum in final stages of development, 2010

Jay Villemarette, founder of the company Skulls Unlimited International, Inc., established the museum alongside his family. Skulls Unlimited's offices and processing facilities are located next to the museum.[2] Construction of the museum began in 2004 and it opened to the public on October 1, 2010.[2][3][13][14]

Remodeled Museum, 2022

Villemarette wanted to share his love of science by displaying his collection and making osteology more accessible to the public.[15] The museum encourages understanding of the complexities of the skeletal structure and an appreciation of extant species.[16]

In 2015, the Museum of Osteology opened a second location, Skeletons: Museum of Osteology in Orlando, Florida, at the I-Drive 360 entertainment complex.[17] This location is cited as the largest skeleton museum in America with over 500 skeletons on display.[citation needed] In 2020, the Florida location closed and the collections were combined, making one SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology.[18]

The museum began renovating its exhibits in 2020, making the most of the COVID pandemic closures. The renovations included bright new wallpaper and new skeletons on displays.

The museum has been featured on various media outlets, including TV channels, newspapers, and podcasts. It has social media profiles on every major platform.

TV Appearances Edit

The museum of osteology has been featured on numerous tv shows including;

  • Ripley's Believe It or Not! "Skull Supplier" Season 2, Episode 6. Air Date: Feb. 14, 2001
  • MSNBC Investigates; "Shades of Obsession" Season 1, Episode 115. Air Date: April 17, 2001
  • Dirty Jobs; "Skull Cleaner" Season 1, Episode 23. Air Date: July 11, 2006
  • Weird, True & Freaky; "Eternally Stuffed" Season 3, Episode 12. Air Date: Nov. 23, 2010
  • Skeleton, Inc. Season 1, Episode 1 (Pilot). Air Date: Sept. 18, 2011
  • Modern Marvels; "Built by Hand" Season 18, Episode 2. Air Date: Oct. 10, 2011
  • Auction Kings; "Les Paul Guitar/Giant Bat" Season 3, Episode 12. Air Date: Jun.14, 2012
  • Taboo; "Living with the Dead" Season 8, Episode 5. Air Date: June 17, 2012

Exhibits Edit

Artiodactyl Exhibit

The museum offers many exhibits from all five vertebrate classes. There are also floating exhibits throughout the museum and whales hanging from the ceiling.[19] All the specimens on display are cleaned at the Skulls Unlimited building next door, using dermestid beetles.[20] The skeletons are articulated and then put on display.[21] The exhibits display a wide range of topics, including locomotion, adaptation, and forensic osteology and pathology.[9][22] The museum offers scavenger hunts for all ages. The answers to these can be found throughout the exhibits. The "Explorers Corner" is the section of the museum devoted to hands-on activities for children. There is a mystery skull game where children can touch real animal skulls.[9] They can also dissect owl pellets on the first floor or in the classroom.

Notable specimens Edit

Mike Rowe with Jay Villemarette cleaning a humpback whale skull at SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology (Oklahoma)

Humpback whale – One of 12 fully articulated skeletons in North America. It washed ashore in 2003, was buried for two years and then cleaned by Skulls Unlimited International.[19]

The whale was featured on an episode of Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs, entitled "Skull Cleaner", where Rowe helped clean the skeleton.[23]

Komodo dragon – One of the first Komodo dragons to be allowed entry into the United States was a gift from the president of Indonesia to George H. W. Bush.[24][citation needed]

Chimp from Space Program – Donated to the museum by William Taylor, retired NASA scientist and photographer. Chimp was said to have been used in the space program at Holloman AF, Alamogordo, New Mexico.[citation needed]

Javan rhino – The rarest specimen in the collection.[25] Out of the five rhino species, the Javan rhino is the most endangered species of rhino.[26]

Sumatran rhino

Sumatran rhino – Another endangered species of rhino, with only about 80 left in the world.[27] They are the smallest of all the rhino species. The Cincinnati Zoo was the first facility to successfully breed this rhino in over 100 years.[28] One of those rhinos was a female named Suci (Sue-Chee), the museum considered it an honor to be entrusted with her after she died.[29] Dr. Terri Roth, an expert on Sumatran rhinos, who worked extensively to save Suci (from hemochromatosis), has used the museum collection to aid her research.

Cetacean Collection – The museum houses the largest private collection of cetaceans. This includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. The collection at the museum holds 46 different species, while in the world there are 80 different species.[10]

Hippopotamus – The museum currently features one fully articulated adult hippopotamus containing a total of 219 bones. On June 28, 2022, Mary Holman, Education Coordinator at the Museum of Osteology and Ashley M. B. Meerschaert, M.S, Director of Operations of the Museum of Osteology, counted the number of bones in a hippopotamus skeleton.[citation needed] Until recently,[when?] it was unknown to the public just how many bones a hippopotamus has.[citation needed] This encouraged the education team to find out the average number of bones a hippopotamus has since no scholarly article or quick Google search had the answer.[citation needed]

Gallery Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ "Skeletons: Animals Unveiled! I-Drive 360". Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Urstadt, Brian (January 7, 2006). "I'm Going to Rib-cage World". Outside. Retrieved February 15, 2023.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b Wheelbarger, Brent (October 1, 2008). "The Bone Collectors; The Biggest Skeletal Collection in the World Right Here in Moore Oklahoma". Moore Monthly – via Skulls Unlimited. (PDF via Internet Archive)
  5. ^ Horton, Greg (October 25, 2006). "Bone Collector". Oklahoma Gazette. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
  6. ^ Brus, Brian (May 27, 2009). "Skull Junkie Finds Solid Future in Skeleton Frontier". The Journal Record. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
  7. ^ "Category: Upcoming Events". Skeleton Museum. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  8. ^ "5 "Bone"-afide Reasons to visit the Museum of Osteology". MetroFamily. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c Riester, Sara (May 29, 2019) [August 11, 2012]. "The Museum of Osteology—Dirty Jobs, Cool Bones & More!". MetroFamily. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  10. ^ a b Brus, Brian (October 26, 2010). "A real skeleton crew: Museum of Osteology opens in Moore". The Journal Record. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  11. ^ "Museum of Osteology and Skulls Unlimited". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  12. ^ "Life as a skull cleaner is a messy job". Reuters. April 3, 2007. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  13. ^ Dinger, Matt (November 15, 2010). "Museum Opens in Southeast Oklahoma City". The Daily Oklahoman.
  14. ^ Gray, Aaron Wright (October 30, 2010). "Villemarette Gets His Skeletons Out of the Closet". Norman Transcript. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  15. ^ "Museum of Osteology | Okie Geek – Podcast on Goodpods". Goodpods. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  16. ^ Bone Museum Oklahoma – Museum Of Osteology. Florida TV. November 11, 2019. Retrieved December 22, 2022 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ American, Anna Aguilar For The. "Skeleton museum opens". The Moore American. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  18. ^ Smith, Jessie Christopher (January 23, 2022). "It's In His Bones: Skull Collector Sees OKC Skeleton Museum Success as Childhood Dream". The Oklahoman. pp. 8a–9a.
  19. ^ a b Transcript, Aaron Wright Gray – The Norman. "Villemarette gets the skeletons out of the closet". Norman Transcript. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  20. ^ "Where 'how greasy a human is' is part of the job". NBC News. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  21. ^ Urstadt, Bryant (January 7, 2006). "I'm Going to Rib-Cage World". Outside Online. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  22. ^ "SKELETONS: Museum Of Osteology; #2 in Best Thing To Do In Oklahoma City". US News Travel. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  23. ^ Rowe, Mike (July 11, 2006). "Skull Cleaner". Dirty Jobs. Season 1. Episode 27. Discovery. Retrieved December 8, 2022.
  24. ^ "A Peek Inside the Museum Archives". Richard Nixon Museum and Library. January 24, 2022. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  25. ^ "Museum of Osteology and Skulls Unlimited". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  26. ^ "Javan Rhino". World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved December 7, 2022.
  27. ^ Nuwer, Rachel. "Endangered species: The last animals of their kind". Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  28. ^ "Sumatran Rhino in Indonesia is Pregnant! Rhino born at the Cincinnati Zoo is the Father". Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Cincinnati. September 22, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  29. ^ "Cincinnati Zoo Devastated By Loss of Endangered Sumatran Rhino". Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Cincinnati. March 31, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2022.

External links Edit