Rudolph F. Zallinger’s The Age of Reptiles mural occupies the full length of the east wall of the Yale Peabody Museum’s Great Hall, where it presides over the exhibition gallery built in 1925 to accommodate the skeletons of the massive Brontosaurus and other dinosaurs discovered and named by the Museum’s founder, O.C. Marsh.
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The mural is one of the largest in the world, measuring 110 feet (33.5 meters) by 16 feet (4.9 meters). It required more than 4.5 years (1943–1947) to complete.
Painted in the Renaissance fresco secco technique, the mural is a work of art that showcases a panorama of the evolutionary history of the earth — from the Devonian Period 362 million years ago to Cretaceous Period 65 million years ago — based on the best scientific knowledge available at the time. The chronology of the mural reads from right to left and spans more than 300 million years, with the large foreground trees marking the boundaries between the geologic periods.
Zallinger’s portrayal of the prehistoric plants and animals was innovative for its time, showing them in natural, realistic landscapes, the result of the collaboration of the artist with the most preeminent paleontologists, paleobotanists, biologists and geologists of that day. In 1949 Zallinger received the Pulitzer Award for Painting in recognition of his work on The Age of Reptiles.
A treasure of the Yale Peabody Museum, today the mural is used by docents as the starting point to educate visitors and school groups about the evolution of life, and also about the evolution of scientific research in the decades since it was completed.
Available from The Museum Store
The Age of Reptiles: The Art and Science
of Rudolph Zallinger’s Great Dinosaur Mural at Yale
Revised, full-color guide with full-color poster
Winner of the 2008 Publication Competition “Best in Show” Award from the New England Museum Association
This six-minute film from the Yale Peabody Museum's Great Hall of Dinosaurs tells the story of the making of The Age of Reptiles mural from the initial vision for this world-famous painting to its publication in Life Magazine. Narrated by Museum educator Armand Morgan.
The Age of Reptiles may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form or media without the written permission of the Yale Peabody Museum. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Age of Reptiles, a mural by Rudolph F. Zallinger. Copyright © 1966, 1975, 1985, 1989, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. All rights reserved.