[Jan 10, 2018, 8:49 PM]
Two stars of the dinosaur world will take center stage in Raleigh in 2023 with the opening of “Dueling Dinosaurs,” a permanent exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. The most complete fossils of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops ever unearthed will be displayed as they were found: locked together as if dueling at the time of their death. The museum is building a state-of-the-art research center, called SECU Dinolab, where the public can get a close-up view and meet scientists seeking to uncover secrets that were buried for 67 million years. The museum announced the acquisition of the T. rex and Triceratops in May 2020, 14 years after they were excavated at a Montana ranch.
The North Carolina Zoo, the world's largest natural habitat zoo, adds a third continent to its realm with an 8-acre Asia exhibit, targeted for a 2023 opening. Construction on the $46 million expansion is set to begin this fall. Tigers, red pandas, Komodo dragons and Chinese alligators are among the species expected to occupy the space, which will also include a glass-walled restaurant with views of the animals. The Asheboro zoo, which opened in 1974, currently features Africa and North America displays plus desert habitat and an aviary with exotic birds and tropical plants.
For a record fourth time, Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines will host the U.S. Women’s Open in 2022. Considered the ultimate test in women’s golf, the tournament's 77th installation will be held June 2-5 on a course designed by Donald Ross and restored in 2017 by Ross aficionado Kyle Franz. Pine Needles, which hosted its first U.S. Women's Open in 1996, became one of the most celebrated courses in women's golf under the ownership of the late Peggy Kirk Bell, an LPGA Tour charter member, renowned instructor and women’s golf advocate. Following Annika Sorenstam's win at the 1996 Open, Pine Needles went on to host the event in 2001 (Karrie Webb won) and 2007 (with Cristie Kerr as victor). In 2014, the U.S. Women's Open was played at neighboring Pinehurst Resort, which became the first course to host the men's and women's Opens in back-to-back play.
The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in downtown Wilson, a signature Eastern North Carolina attraction, adds a new dimension to the experience with the newly opened Whirligig Museum, located just across the street. The museum illuminates the life of the accidental folk artist, a farm equipment repairman who turned scraps and cast-off items into 50-foot-tall sculptures that moved in the breeze. In Simpson's hands, road signs, bicycles, plows and washing machine parts danced against the sky in sculptures collected by the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, the High Museum in Atlanta, the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh and others. The new Whirligig Museum tells the story of the Wilson park, where 30 of Simpson's creations were restored and installed in a 2-acre park. The park, which officially opened four years after Simpson's death in 2013, is the centerpiece of the North Carolina Whirligig Festival, which returns Nov. 6-7.