A lot of people may not know this, but North Dakota is home to an archaeological wonder – a true-blue national treasure – in the form of a triceratops skeleton named Bob. It’s one of the most complete triceratops skeletons ever found, and it was discovered right here in North Dakota.
He’s been on display at the Barnes County Museum for some time now – indeed, he’s “lived” in the state for more than 65 million years – but the museum is having funding issues and they may have to sell the skeleton if they can’t make ends meet.
According to this report from WDAY, the museum needs $1.4 million to keep Bob in the state.
Now I’m a fiscal conservative. I’m not normally one to tout new avenues for state spending. But lawmakers and state leaders really need to consider what the state would lose if this treasure is moved somewhere else.
It’s a major tourism draw. According to the Barnes County Museum, they went from 50 visitors per month to over 1,000 per month after Bob was put on display. That’s a big deal, and it could get even better with some help.
So why not spend a few tax dollars to help out?
It’s not just about having one of the most interesting dinosaur displays in the world. It’s also about North Dakota’s place in our national consciousness. People see our state as a flat, boring space where nothing interesting ever happens. But that’s not really true. Our area has a lot of very interesting history attached to it, which Bob exemplifies perfectly.
Again, I find myself in the odd position of being a fiscal conservative arguing for greater appropriations, but preserving history is a legitimate function of government I think. And in terms of our state budget, $1.4 million isn’t a lot.
It’s late in the session for lawmakers to be introducing new bills – I’m not familiar enough with procedure to say if an appropriation of this size can even be introduced at this point – but there’s got to be a way the state can step in and keep Bob in the state.
I’ve had some preliminary talks with a few people and I think we’re going to start a private campaign for donations as well – I’ll post more about that when details are available – but it wouldn’t be inappropriate for the state to help out.