What do a T-Rex skull, two stuffed elephants and a meteorite from Australia have in common? They are among the more than 20 popular exhibits included in an adopt-an-artifact program begun this month by Chicago's Field Museum.
Money raised from individuals or corporations will go toward the museum's endowment fund, now around $290 million, said Sheila Cawley, the museum's official in charge of the new sponsorship program.
Donors get their names placed near the exhibit, a meeting with a scientist linked to it, an original work of art and mention on the museum's Web site, Cawley said. The sponsorships start at $25,000 and run as high as $2.5 million for exclusive association with the two African elephants acquired by the museum in 1909.
Sponsoring Bushman the gorilla will cost $1 million. The now-stuffed animal was a big draw at Lincoln Park Zoo until his death in 1951. The body of the 550-pound lowland gorilla was donated to the museum and became a permanent exhibit in 1952.
The skull of Sue the T-Rex, one of the Field Museum's best known pieces, and two man-eating Tsavo lions also will cost sponsors $1 million.
Less expensive sponsorships include the Gladstone meteorite from Australia and a Tibetan statue with multiple arms, which each cost $25,000.
The values are roughly linked to an object's fame and size, Cawley said.
The Field Museum has more than 23 million artifacts, and the museum could expand the sponsorship program later to include more objects, she said.