The huge response to Te Manawa’s moving dinosaur display has museum bosses predicting their best ever exhibit.
Te Manawa’s Andy Lowe said he wasgobsmacked by the huge school holiday response to Dinosaur Encounter.
So far more than 800 people a day are queuing to see the animatronic exhibit flown in direct from the Natural History Museum in London. ‘‘It’s unprecedented.’’ At this rate, the dinosaur showcase that opened on Saturday, September 24 and runs until February in the museum’s MacDiarmid Gallery is well on track to surpass any previous Te Manawa exhibition.
Lowe said the most people Te Manawa has had for any one occasion were the 3700 who turned up over five hours for the first pre-Christmas night market in 2012.
About 11,000 attended during the three months of the recent Frida Kahlo exhibition.
Lowe said other big exhibitions such as 2007’s Da Vinci Machines and The Roman Machines in 2013 had pulled about 10,000 and 6000 visitors respectively. Dinosaur Encounter is aiming for 20,000.
Te Manawa’s Maggie Vine said staff were only letting 45 to 50 people into the gallery at a time.
This was to make sure there was enough space for visitors to take videos and photos, for small children to be able to see, and out of safety considerations.
Average times spent in the exhibition are between 20 and 30 minutes, while according to Te Manawa’s Facebook page, the queues could be between 30 and 40 minutes.
While reaction to the dinosaurs had been great, the numbers had staff scrambling last week to provide additional entertainment for those in line, where some people reported waiting for an hour.
‘‘It is a dinosaur-sized awesome problem to solve and I love it,’’ Lowe said.
‘‘I am getting young actors to be in dinosaur suits to entertain the crowds.’’
He said there were dinosaur exhibits in six other locations around Te Manawa.
They include a diorama in the entranceway, an outdoor fossil dig, a display, as well as a 10-minute film dedicated to amateur palaeontologist Joan Wiffen, who was responsible for discovering that New Zealand once had dinosaurs.
‘Rex’ moves, bites and entertains those queuing at Te Manawa.