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‘Save Dippy’ campaign begins as Casson Mann reveals museum revamp

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A campaign has been launched to prevent the London Natural History Museum’s iconic diplodocus model being relocated

The life-sized cast – known as Dippy – will be replaced with a blue whale skeleton in 2017 under plans designed by Casson Mann to overhaul the museum’s central Hintze Hall.

According to the museum, the 25 metre-long mammal skeleton replacement will ‘lay bare the relationship between humans and the natural world.’

Casson Mann has also argued the whale skeleton is more ‘authentic’ than the dinosaur replica.

However campaigners have described the centrepiece as ‘monument of British heritage’ and called for it to remain.

More than 29,000 signatures have so far been added to an online petition against Dippy’s relocation.

In a statement the petition organisers said: ‘Dippy the diplodocus has been the centre piece in the Natural History Museum for [more than 35] years.

‘He has inspired generations of schoolchildren to look back to the earth’s past and help them think about looking after the planet’s future. But now after all those years, this important relic is being removed.’ 

Museum director Michael Dixon said: ‘After inspiring millions of visitors over 35 years, it’s no surprise to me that some want to keep the Diplodocus centre stage. We love Dippy too.’

The 25 metre-long dinosaur skeleton replica may go on tour before moving to a permanent home within the South Kensington museum, according to Dixon.

The director added: ‘I believe the whale’s story links directly to our species’ impact on the natural world and our chance to build a sustainable future. We’re looking forward to showing that the blue whale can be equally as stunning and it will connect the visitors to the work of scientists in the Museum.’

In a statement Casson Mann co-founder Roger Mann said: ‘Dippy was always problematic because he was a cast, and while much loved, the museum curators and Casson Mann agreed that transformation of the space needed a freshobject from the vast collection.

‘This mature blue whale skeleton is the best choice – it reflects the museum’s emphasis on authenticity, and as part of the extant collection affirms the Natural History Museum’s biodiversity strategy.’

The suspended whale skeleton frees up valuable circulation space

He continued: ‘From a design perspective, the fact that it will be dramatically suspended above the floor means that it provides a striking focal point as the visitor arrives, drawing the gaze upwards and into the remarkable space. It also frees up valuable circulation space can be brought to more effective use, reducing congestion and creating a greater sense of space in the hall.’ 

Dippy is a replica of a dinosaur skeleton unearthed in Wyoming in 1898 which is currently on show in Pittsburgh.

It will be replaced with a blue whale skeleton which the museum purchased for £250 in 1891 after the enormous creature beached itself at the mouthof Wexford Harbour.

The whale – known as the balaenoptera musculus has been displayed inside the museum’s Mammal Hall since 1938.

Casson Mann was chosen to overhaul the central hall following a competitive pitch. The studio is working with conservation outfit Purcell on the scheme which will acknowledge Alfred Waterhouse’s original vision for hall to be divided between extinct and extant collections.

 

 

 

 

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Readers' comments (3)

  • I mourn the disappearance of the dinosaur that once occupied the medieval monastic undercroft (now a shop & restaurant) of Durham Cathedral, and I think that such a skeleton has just as much relevance, and more visual impact, to that of a blue whale. The fact that the British Museum dinosaur skeleton is a replica is - to my mind - neither here nor there, the blue whale is already on display, and the proposals smell of change for change's sake..

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  • Oops, should have said Natural History Museum, not British Museum.

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  • Chris Rogers

    The real reason it's going is to free the space for corporate events - a fact alluded to in the press statement and hinted at elsewhere in the media. See also the London Transport Museum and Museum of London. Is it too much to hope that such spaces - where strictly necessary - can be populated with movable display cases so we actually get to see more of the collection we pay for?

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