Prehistoria museum provides a hands-on look at the ancient world

News Sep 06, 2017 by Rahul Gupta York Guardian

The sight of a dead whale wouldn’t elicit much more than feelings of queasiness. For Ben Lovatt, the carcass was an opportunity to add another piece to his vast collection of animal parts.

Lovatt is the co-operator of Prehistoria, a natural history museum located in Mount Dennis , right next to his other concern, the SkullStore, which sells exotic  animal skulls along with fossils and ancient minerals amassed from his travels across the world. 

On one such jaunt to Cape Breton, Lovatt came across the beached pilot whale and arranged to have the approximately one tonne corpse stripped of all flesh, its bones stored in tupperware containers for the trip back to Toronto. The 16-foot skeleton will eventually become the latest showpiece for Prehistoria, he said.

“We’re going to hang it in the main window, so it’s the first thing people see when they come to visit the museum,” said Lovatt this week.

Prehistoria, which opened two years ago, is undergoing a re-structuring in time for a soft relaunch in the fall, and Lovatt admits the 1,100 square foot space is “in shambles” while he and staff work to reconfigure the 10,000 piece collection. 

The bones currently on display include the gigantic skull of a woolly rhinoceros, which last roamed the glacial plains of Eurasia 10,000 years ago.

 There’s also the vertebra of a prehistoric camel uncovered in Alaska – the beasts were prevalent in northern climes millions of years ago before migrating south—and a taxidermy of an eagle which soared the skies of Southern New Zealand before going extinct in the 1400s.

Surprisingly, cleaning bones often dating back millennia is a straight forward process.

“All we really use is some hot water and dish soap, that’s really it,” said Lovatt.

Lovatt is constantly on the search for new pieces, and he makes use of his ample global contact list to acquire specimens from museums, indigenous tribes and farms across the world.

While many of those bones and skulls are intended to be sold-- the SkullStore retail website draws around 700 people a day—he says all sales go towards supporting Prehistoria. 

Recently, he has begun to offer a new service for those seeking a sentimental keepsake of their beloved pet. For fees ranging from $60 to $400, Lovatt and his staff will clean up the animal's skeleton to preserve as a permanent memorial. 

It sounds a bit creepy, but Lovatt points out some owners will cremate their beloved companions and keep their ashes in an urn. The business seems to be growing with more people turning up at the shop to inquire about memorializing their beloved animal.

Admission to the museum, located on Weston Road, is free of charge, and schools are invited to organize field trips to check out the collection. It’s all in keeping with Prehistoria’s stated aim to reduce barriers and make the museum accessible for all. 

“We want people to come in and get a hands-on experience of the natural world,” said Lovatt. 

Prehistoria museum provides a hands-on look at the ancient world

Collection of 10,000 skulls, fossils and minerals located in Mount Dennis

News Sep 06, 2017 by Rahul Gupta York Guardian

The sight of a dead whale wouldn’t elicit much more than feelings of queasiness. For Ben Lovatt, the carcass was an opportunity to add another piece to his vast collection of animal parts.

Lovatt is the co-operator of Prehistoria, a natural history museum located in Mount Dennis , right next to his other concern, the SkullStore, which sells exotic  animal skulls along with fossils and ancient minerals amassed from his travels across the world. 

On one such jaunt to Cape Breton, Lovatt came across the beached pilot whale and arranged to have the approximately one tonne corpse stripped of all flesh, its bones stored in tupperware containers for the trip back to Toronto. The 16-foot skeleton will eventually become the latest showpiece for Prehistoria, he said.

“We’re going to hang it in the main window, so it’s the first thing people see when they come to visit the museum,” said Lovatt this week.

Prehistoria, which opened two years ago, is undergoing a re-structuring in time for a soft relaunch in the fall, and Lovatt admits the 1,100 square foot space is “in shambles” while he and staff work to reconfigure the 10,000 piece collection. 

The bones currently on display include the gigantic skull of a woolly rhinoceros, which last roamed the glacial plains of Eurasia 10,000 years ago.

 There’s also the vertebra of a prehistoric camel uncovered in Alaska – the beasts were prevalent in northern climes millions of years ago before migrating south—and a taxidermy of an eagle which soared the skies of Southern New Zealand before going extinct in the 1400s.

Surprisingly, cleaning bones often dating back millennia is a straight forward process.

“All we really use is some hot water and dish soap, that’s really it,” said Lovatt.

Lovatt is constantly on the search for new pieces, and he makes use of his ample global contact list to acquire specimens from museums, indigenous tribes and farms across the world.

While many of those bones and skulls are intended to be sold-- the SkullStore retail website draws around 700 people a day—he says all sales go towards supporting Prehistoria. 

Recently, he has begun to offer a new service for those seeking a sentimental keepsake of their beloved pet. For fees ranging from $60 to $400, Lovatt and his staff will clean up the animal's skeleton to preserve as a permanent memorial. 

It sounds a bit creepy, but Lovatt points out some owners will cremate their beloved companions and keep their ashes in an urn. The business seems to be growing with more people turning up at the shop to inquire about memorializing their beloved animal.

Admission to the museum, located on Weston Road, is free of charge, and schools are invited to organize field trips to check out the collection. It’s all in keeping with Prehistoria’s stated aim to reduce barriers and make the museum accessible for all. 

“We want people to come in and get a hands-on experience of the natural world,” said Lovatt. 

Prehistoria museum provides a hands-on look at the ancient world

Collection of 10,000 skulls, fossils and minerals located in Mount Dennis

News Sep 06, 2017 by Rahul Gupta York Guardian

The sight of a dead whale wouldn’t elicit much more than feelings of queasiness. For Ben Lovatt, the carcass was an opportunity to add another piece to his vast collection of animal parts.

Lovatt is the co-operator of Prehistoria, a natural history museum located in Mount Dennis , right next to his other concern, the SkullStore, which sells exotic  animal skulls along with fossils and ancient minerals amassed from his travels across the world. 

On one such jaunt to Cape Breton, Lovatt came across the beached pilot whale and arranged to have the approximately one tonne corpse stripped of all flesh, its bones stored in tupperware containers for the trip back to Toronto. The 16-foot skeleton will eventually become the latest showpiece for Prehistoria, he said.

“We’re going to hang it in the main window, so it’s the first thing people see when they come to visit the museum,” said Lovatt this week.

Prehistoria, which opened two years ago, is undergoing a re-structuring in time for a soft relaunch in the fall, and Lovatt admits the 1,100 square foot space is “in shambles” while he and staff work to reconfigure the 10,000 piece collection. 

The bones currently on display include the gigantic skull of a woolly rhinoceros, which last roamed the glacial plains of Eurasia 10,000 years ago.

 There’s also the vertebra of a prehistoric camel uncovered in Alaska – the beasts were prevalent in northern climes millions of years ago before migrating south—and a taxidermy of an eagle which soared the skies of Southern New Zealand before going extinct in the 1400s.

Surprisingly, cleaning bones often dating back millennia is a straight forward process.

“All we really use is some hot water and dish soap, that’s really it,” said Lovatt.

Lovatt is constantly on the search for new pieces, and he makes use of his ample global contact list to acquire specimens from museums, indigenous tribes and farms across the world.

While many of those bones and skulls are intended to be sold-- the SkullStore retail website draws around 700 people a day—he says all sales go towards supporting Prehistoria. 

Recently, he has begun to offer a new service for those seeking a sentimental keepsake of their beloved pet. For fees ranging from $60 to $400, Lovatt and his staff will clean up the animal's skeleton to preserve as a permanent memorial. 

It sounds a bit creepy, but Lovatt points out some owners will cremate their beloved companions and keep their ashes in an urn. The business seems to be growing with more people turning up at the shop to inquire about memorializing their beloved animal.

Admission to the museum, located on Weston Road, is free of charge, and schools are invited to organize field trips to check out the collection. It’s all in keeping with Prehistoria’s stated aim to reduce barriers and make the museum accessible for all. 

“We want people to come in and get a hands-on experience of the natural world,” said Lovatt.