A brand new hands-on prehistoric museum and prep lab has just opened its doors in Saanich.

Newly opened Dino Lab Inc. is a unique dinosaur experience where guests can touch and hold ancient fossils.

The museum, tucked away in the Tillicum neighbourhood, opened on July 6 to rave reviews.

Dino Lab Inc. was born from owner Terry Ciotka's previous business, which performed the prep work to ready fossils and dinosaurs for display and supplies pieces to museums and private clients around the world.

Over the last 25 years, he built up an impressive collection of dinosaurs and fossils throughout his career, which had been compiled in a local warehouse since he moved his operation to the island 5 years ago.

 “I was called 'Victoria’s best kept secret' for the last three and half years,” said Ciotka.

They wanted to wait for the right time for the reveal, which was a few months ago, he and co-owner Carly Burbank decided.

“If it’s going to work it’s going to work now, where people can come in and see a full T-Rex," said Ciotka. "I mean there’s nothing cooler than a full T-Rex. We’ve got the best of the best.”

With his background in dinosaurs and his passion, he wanted to give people a different experience than what they may be familiar with at a museum.

“I thought, 'You know what? It would be nice to bring this experience to people where they can actually hold dinosaur bones, hold real fossils, touch them, touch the displays and lastly get to go in our prep lab and actually work on real bones,'”

“When you walk through and you can see and touch things that are one-hundred-and-fifty-million years old, it just blows my mind," said museum visitor Tina Rose. "It really is a cool experience.”

It's the exact response Dino Lab Inc.'s co-owners were hoping for.

“It really is cool because I love seeing the expression on kids and adults faces," said Ciotka.

Inside the Lab Dinosaur fossils are first extracted from the surrounding rock, where their team carefully logs all of the measurements and details of the specimen.

Next From the rock they carefully remove, and number missing pieces and then recreate bones using advanced 3D printing technology,

After months, sometimes years, of work they begin the rewarding process of mounting the specimen. Dinosaur displays are build, welded and assembled by their lead Welder and Fossil Technician Ry Williams,

“If I do a good job with it, you won’t see what I have done," said Williams.

After dinosaurs are mounted they make their way to their final destinations in museums around the world or private collections.