Black Hills Institute has been creating, assembling and supplying displays and specimens for displays for more than a quarter of a century. Helping museums present well-prepared fossils in new and exciting, or life-like, ways is what we do. Many paleontological museums in North America, Europe, and Asia display fossils collected and/or prepared by us.
We can advise and assist your design team in helping you to build an entire exhibition, whether ancient sea life, dinosaur extinctions and meteorite impacts, or mineralogy. BHI has a very large inventory of original fossil material from which to draw on, and a wide variety of casts available. We also stay aware of what other collectors are finding – so chances are, if we don’t have what you’re looking for, we can help you locate it from one of our trusted associates. Because our owners are paleontologists and mineralogists with over 4 decades of experience, we are often called upon as consultants to help make sure our clients’ exhibits are cohesive and coordinated and that interpretive material is presented accurately.
Black Hills Institute often fields inquiries regarding fossils, amateur collectors or landowners have discovered. We are often asked for advice, involving removal or preservation of a fossil specimen. In other instances we will visit the site, assess its scientific or commercial potential and make recommendations to the landowner or discoverer (with landowner permission). Our expertise in evaluating fossils in the field allows us to fairly recommend whether it is worthwhile to proceed with an excavation. If a fossil is worthwhile, we sometimes contract with the owner and/or the discoverer to excavate the fossil for our own collections or to help locate another suitable repository.
The staff at Black Hills Institute has many years experience identifying fossils and minerals of many types from worldwide locations. We are often asked to identify fossils in museums collections. Some specimens are readily identifiable – fossils that are commonly encountered and are seen in most museum collections. Occasionally we encounter a fossil that is new to science! New species of fossils and minerals are discovered and reported every year.
Our years of experience and success with difficult fossils has brought us many custom preparation projects. Our lab is equipped to deal with a wide variety of fossil material ranging from minute spiny trilobites which must be cleaned under magnification, to dinosaurs with bones so large that their size alone is a considerable challenge. Several staff members have specialties in certain types of preparation, i.e. microscope, chemical, airbrasive, etc.
Since we began our extensive molding and casting projects in the mid-90’s we have found many fossils for which there are valid reasons to create cast replicas. Generally these are exceptional specimens – quite unusual or exceptionally well-preserved. Sometimes casts are commercially marketable, especially where the originals are in high demand and may be prohibitively expensive. Other specimens are molded and cast because of their high scientific interest, so that several researchers can examine them at the same time.
More than four decades of work in the paleontological field have given us a vast network of suppliers for everything from glue to pneumatic tools. These materials and tools help to make our finished products what they are. We are happy to share this acquired knowledge and experience as consultants to help you in your efforts to collect, prepare or restore fossils or to create high quality cast replicas. Many of the tools and materials we use are available for purchase from our on-line store.
Black Hills Institute sometimes procures fossils and casts for other institutions. Because we remain aware of sources and availability of many types of specimens, we can often locate those specimens needed to round out an exhibit or complete a research project. In many cases, at the request of our client, we will procure the fossil or an unmounted cast and will then exercise our quality control and our unique preparation and mounting procedures to ensure that the exhibited items are of a consistent appearance and quality.
Many Black Hills Institute fieldwork and laboratory activities have been documented using still photography, video and audio. This material, along with field notes, field maps and other graphics and resources owned by the Institute, is available for licensing, for commercial or institutional use.