Having wowed visitors since arriving in London in 1905, Dippy the Diplodocus will be on public display outside the capital for the first time as he embarks on a three-year tour. Curators hope Dippy’s will encourage children and families to explore nature on their doorstep and will explore the UK’s past, present and future natural history.
Dippy the Diplodocus will initially visit eight including one each in Scotland, Wakes and Northern Ireland including: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff and the Ulster Museum, Belfast.
It will also visit five regions across England including: Dorset County Museum, Dorcester; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Great North Museum, Newcastle; Number One Riverside, Rochdale and Norwich Cathedral. The latter two venues couldn’t be more different with Number One Riverside being a modern multi-use public building encompassing Rochdale Central Library and Norwich Cathedral a 920-year-old Norman archaeological wonder.
This is in keeping with the Natural History Museum’s wish that Dippy visit unusual locations so he can draw in many people that may not traditionally visit a museum and that a visit would be free.
“Making iconic items accessible to as many people as possible is at the heart of what museums give to the nation, so we have ensured that Dippy will still be free to view at all tour venues,” said Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum. “Working with our eight partners we look forward to inspiring five million natural history adventures and, encouraging children from across the country to develop a passion for science and nature. Few museum objects are better known – surely no one object better evokes the awesome diversity of species that have lived on Earth?”
The skeleton cast was presented to the Museum by industrialist Andrew Carnegie in May 1905, but didn’t make the move to the iconic Hintze Hall until 1979. The Diplodocus has since been the first sight to greet Museum visitors as they pass through the main entrance on Cromwell Road.
With support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the tour – which saw a total of 90 venues respond to the open-call for potential partners in 2015 – will draw attention to the rich array of past and present UK biodiversity. Each partner will use Dippy’s visit to showcase their local nature and natural history collections, building partnerships between regional cultural, scientific and wildlife organisations.
“We are absolutely thrilled that Dippy will be visiting Kelvingrove Museum as part of the Natural History Museum’s ‘Dippy on Tour,” said Councillor Archie Graham Chair of Glasgow Life. “One of our most visited spaces in the museum is the Life Gallery, which is home to a number of fascinating creatures from the natural history world. We are confident Dippy will feel right at home among them when he joins us at Kelvingrove in January 2019. This is a wonderful opportunity to engage citizens and visitors alike in the way we think about and protect our natural world.”
Before Dippy goes on tour visitors to the Natural History Museum can see all of its dinosaurs together, from the roaring T rex to new additions such as the Stegosaurus and the feathered Deinonychus models.
Dippy’s last day on show in London will be January 4 2017 and conservators will then spend 12 months preparing the delicate plaster-of-Paris cast for its multiple journeys.
The tour is open to further offers after summer 2020 with the NHM still on the lookout for host venues that can offer Dippy a temporary home that is open and accessible to the public and free to visit.
Dippy’s replacement will be a real skeleton of a blue whale that has been part of the museum’s collection since it was beached in County Wexford, Ireland, in 1891. Curators hope the whale will highlight the mammal’s endangered status and also become a museum icon.
Dippy Tour Venues
- Dorset County Museum, Dorchester – Spring 2018
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery – Summer 2018
- Ulster Museum, Belfast – Autumn/Winter 2018
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow – Spring 2019
- Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne – Summer 2019
- National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff – Autumn/Winter 2019
- Number One Riverside, Rochdale – Spring 2020
- Norwich Cathedral – Summer 2020