The Mystery Of The First Dinosaur Museum, Which Was Intentionally Destroyed With Sledgehammers

Panupong - - illustrative purposes only

In 1871, a gang of vandals armed with sledgehammers targeted what was supposed to be the first dinosaur museum in Central Park, New York.

They smashed skeletons and models of dinosaurs that were meant to be displayed in exhibits. Then, they carted the pieces away, ensuring that any designs or molds to make more models were destroyed.

At the time, a corrupt politician known as William “Boss” Tweed was blamed. The models had been created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins.

The city hired him to make a display for the Paleozoic Museum in Central Park, but Tweed shut down the project in 1870.

Two months later, Hawkins’ work was trashed during the greatest act of museum-related vandalism in history.

But was it really Tweed behind the crime? A 2023 study published in the journal Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association claimed to have found the real suspect.

“Previous accounts of the incident had always reported that this was done under the personal instructions of ‘Boss’ Tweed himself, for various motives from raging that the display would be blasphemous, to vengeance for a perceived criticism of him in a New York Times report of the project’s cancelation,” Mike Benton, a co-author of the study and professor of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Bristol in England, said.

When the study’s authors read documents related to the incident, they noticed that something didn’t seem to add up.

During the time the crime was committed, Tweed had already been accused of corruption and financial errors, so he was too busy trying to keep his political career afloat to involve himself in the museum scheme. It didn’t seem likely that he was the culprit.

Panupong – – illustrative purposes only

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