Jack Horner with Fort Peck T-rex

Jack Horner, Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, provides scale for Tyrannosaurus rex fossils at the excavation site near the Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana in June 1990. Named for its discoverer, Kathy Wankel, the Wankel T.rex is estimated to have weighed six to seven tons.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton bound for the Smithsonian Institution is set to arrive in Washington in April as a new home is built for the specimen on the National Mall, the museum said Friday.

The T. rex unearthed in Montana in 1988 will arrive at the National Museum of Natural History on April 15 on a 50-year loan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Smithsonian is planning a new, 31,000-square-foot dinosaur hall that is scheduled to open in 2019.

On April 28, the museum will close the current fossil hall to begin a complete redesign and renovation of the exhibit. But museum director Kirk Johnson said dinosaurs will continue to be on view during construction.

"The entire Natural History Museum will be alive with excitement as we begin a journey to tell the story of prehistoric Earth by welcoming one of its most famous ambassadors, the Tyrannosaurus rex," he said in announcing the plans.

This week the museum unveiled a new display featuring a cast of the T. rex skull that is headed to Washington. Next year, the museum will feature fossils from the dinosaurs' last days.

The rare T. rex fossil was discovered in 1988 by researcher Kathy Wankel on federal land in eastern Montana. Scientists say it is one of the most complete T. rex specimens ever discovered. It has been displayed at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont. The transfer of the skeleton was delayed last fall by the government shutdown.

Philanthropist David H. Koch has donated $35 million to create a new dinosaur hall at the Smithsonian.

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