Lectures and Special Events

Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt: A Site-Specific Opera for Families

September 23, 2017 - October 15, 2017

Young girl in a school uniform standing in an empty Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs

Photo by Shervin-Lainez


Join Rhoda as she hunts for missing fossils throughout the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs! This opera by composer John Musto is based on the real-life experiences of Rhoda Knight Kalt and her grandfather Charles R. Knight, the famous naturalist illustrator whose paintings and sculptures are still on display at the Museum today. 

Created in Partnership with the On Site Opera.

Please note:

  • Recommended for ages 5 and up.
  • Running Time: 20 mins.
  • There is no seating for this event.

Performance Schedule

Weekends through October 15, 2017
Noon & 2:30 pm

Fridays through October 13, 2017
11:30 am

NOTE: RSVP for the Noon and 2:30 pm performances on Sat, Oct. 14 are closed.

About the Opera

Co-commissioned and co-produced with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited and Pittsburgh Opera, Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt is based on the real-life experiences of 8-year-old Rhoda Knight Kalt and her trips to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) with her grandfather Charles R. Knight, the famous naturalist artist who was commissioned to create paintings and sculptures of prehistoric creatures – many still on display at the AMNH today. The opera premieres in the AMNH’s Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs in the fall 2017 before traveling to Chicago (Lyric Unlimited) and Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Opera).

In the early 20th century, Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, paleontologist and president of the AMNH, turned to painter Charles R. Knight to bring their fossil collection to life for museum visitors. Through his work, Knight took viewers millions of years back in time to view non-avian dinosaurs as active, fleshed out creatures. Every weekend, Knight’s granddaughter Rhoda accompanied “Toppy” (as she called him) to the museum while he worked. As Knight painted, little Rhoda watched in awe as the massive fossils unpacked by the museum’s paleontologists were transformed into living, breathing creatures on Toppy’s canvases and sculptures. Audiences will join Rhoda as she goes on a hunt for missing fossils around the hall, while learning about the connection between creativity and science.