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Forget trawling the malls and warehouse stores for those elusive nontoxic toys. This holiday season, take the kids to a live performance or museum event. They're bound to remember a fun family outing long after those toys are forgotten, broken or recalled.
Created by author and artist James Gurney, Dinotopia is a fictional island where dinosaurs and humans live in peace. The closest you and yours will get to this magical place is Oshkosh, where the city's Public Museum has been selected as the only U.S. venue to host the exhibit Return to Dinotopia before it moves to Europe in 2008. Featuring more than 40 of Gurney's stunning, otherworldly paintings from his latest book, Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara, the exhibit promises to entrance young and old alike. Marvel at the four life-size dinosaur skulls on display. Through January 27. Tue-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 1-4:30 p.m. 1331 Algoma Blvd. See Oshkosh Public Museum or call (920) 236-5799.
Plan a visit to Oshkosh's EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association). On December 10 the whole family can enjoy Christmas in the Air, a free holiday event featuring madrigal and choral groups (good acoustics in the hangar), refreshments, the "Just Plane Chocolate" competition, and Santa eschewing a reindeer-drawn sleigh for an arrival by helicopter. 2-8 p.m. EAA also hosts its annual program of special aeronautical activities and presentations for families during Kids' Days, December 26-31, with discounted admission prices for children. EAA AirVenture Museum, 3000 Poberezny Rd. Visit AirVenture Museum or call (920) 426-4800.
Twenty-five years ago the Milwaukee County Zoo's celebrity gorilla, Samson, passed away. But kids born after the big fella died can still get acquainted with him. This year, the Milwaukee Public Museum is gradually bringing Samson back to life at the hands of taxidermist/artist Wendy Christensen-Senk, who has been crafting a full-size, scientifically accurate re-creation of the great ape. It's Christensen-Senk who's really on display in the Samson Remembered exhibit; visitors can watch her at work building the skeletal structure, shaping the body, and adding hair. Sam La Malfa, Samson's longtime keeper, gives talks about their days together. The exhibit runs through January 1, 2008. 800 W. Wells St. See Milwaukee Public Museum or call 1-888-700-9069. (Check out the "Samcam" at Samson Remembered to check on Samson's progress.)