Dippy will be deeply missed

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Lois Swin­ner­ton lois.swin­ner­ton@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

THE day fi­nally came, Dippy the Di­nosaur has waved good­bye to the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum and Jan­uary 5 marked the first day of the tricky dis­man­tling process.

Dippy the Di­plodocus has spent the past 112 years in The Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum, and wel­comed vis­i­tors into his home from the en­trance hall since 1979.

If you have ever vis­ited the mu­seum in Kens­ing­ton, you will not have been able to es­cape his grandeur. Stand­ing at an im­pres­sive 21.3 me­tres long, 4.25 me­tres high, and 4.3 me­tres wide, he was a favourite of many vis­i­tors to the mu­seum.

The fos­silised bones of a Di­plodocus were un­earthed in Amer­ica in 1898, a replica was then built out of plas­ter, cre­at­ing Dippy.

He is one of 10 repli­cas in the world in­clud­ing in Paris and Moscow.

Dippy is a Di­plodocus, a species which lived around 150 mil­lion years ago and be­longs to a group called sauropods, which means “lizard feet”.

How­ever, Dippy has now left Hintze Hall to pre­pare for for his tour across the coun­try.

“We wanted Dippy to visit un­usual lo­ca­tions so he can draw in peo­ple who may not tra­di­tion­ally visit a mu­seum,” said mu­seum di­rec­tor, sir Michael Dixon.

“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.”

He added that the project is all about “en­cour­ag­ing chil­dren from across the coun­try to de­velop a pas­sion for science and na­ture.”

On his 2018 tour, the plas­ter cast model, which is made up of 292 bones, will visit eight venues across Scotland, Wales, North­ern Ire­land and lo­ca­tions across Eng­land.

The process to pre­pare Dippy for his tour started many years ago, and takes place af­ter hours, when the doors of the mu­seum were closed to the pub­lic.

Twice a year for the past 112 years, Dippy has been pol­ished to per­fec­tion to en­sure that he is al­ways look­ing in tip-top con­di­tion for vis­i­tors.

A spe­cial vac­uum is used to re­move the dust and Dippy is then pol­ished with con­ser­va­tion-grade brushes with nat­u­ral fi­bres.

Ex­hi­bi­tion spe­cial­ist, He­len Walker, said: “We usu­ally clean the skele­ton in the evening be­cause it is a long job that can’t be rushed.

“It needs a good clean twice a year be­cause a layer of dust forms from the sheer num­ber of vis­i­tors that Dippy gets. He gets cov­ered in it.

“’We used to use a scaf­fold, but now we use lad­ders and mo­bile plat­forms to reach the higher parts. Long brushes help us to get in be­tween all the fid­dly bits.

“The tail is par­tic­u­larly hard to clean be­cause it stretches out so far, and vi­bra­tions can run all along it and ex­pose cracks.”

Fur­ther prepa­ra­tion was car­ried out to en­sure a safe dis­man­tling process for the 70ft model.

Con­ser­va­tor, Lor­raine Cor­nish in­spected the gi­ant in 2016. She said: “A con­ser­va­tion assess­ment of Dippy and its mount was needed so we can as­sess the con­di­tion of the skele­ton cast and also look more closely at how it was orig­i­nally assembled in Hintze Hall.

“It was ex­cit­ing and in­ter­est­ing to see that parts of the plas­ter ver­te­brae had been pro­duced in sec­tions and were able to come apart eas­ily, which will help when we come to dis­man­tle the spec­i­men.”

A six per­son team will now em­bark upon the dis­man­tling process which is ex­pected to take around three weeks.

The replica model will be taken apart and the mu­seum said Dippy will be packed into 12 separate crates, en­abling him to be trans­ported to the dif­fer­ent venues across the UK, be­gin­ning at the Dorset County Mu­seum from Fe­bru­ary 2018.

Kat Nils­son, who is head of na­tional pub­lic pro­grammes at the mu­seum, said: “We are go­ing to turn him, es­sen­tially, into flat­pack Dippy so that he can be put to­gether – prob­a­bly in four days by the end of it, maybe even less.”

Hintze Hall will now be closed to the pub­lic un­til the sum­mer of 2017, when the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum will un­veil the real skele­ton of an 83ft blue whale, weigh­ing 4.5 tonnes.

The skele­ton is 100-years-old and will take pride of place in the en­trance hall.

Sir Michael said: “The nat­u­ral world is chang­ing fast and so are we.

“It’s in our grasp to shape a sus­tain­able fu­ture – but our de­ci­sions have to be in­formed by un­der­stand­ing our past and present.

“The blue whale is a per­fect sym­bol of this story of hope.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.