Item of the Month August 2012 - “After watching them on the big screen….” Itstimeusaurus: The Natural History Museum and Jurassic Park
This month’s item comes from the Museum Archive and is an example of contemporary material in this collection which documents the work of the Natural History Museum since its earliest days.
In 1992, a new dinosaur display was opened by HRH Diana, Princess of Wales which included full-size robotic and static models. This display proved to be enormously popular not just with the Princess who brought with her two sons William and Harry to the opening but also with the public.
Visitor numbers which were up by 250,000 that year and to this day the dinosaurs gallery is one of the most visited in the Museum.
A year later, in 1993, after the release Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster dinosaur film “Jurassic Park” the Museum’s profile remained on a high, this was no accident as the Museum worked hard to utilise the connections between its dinosaur collections and the film.
A file recently accessioned by Museum Archive details how the Museum worked closely with the movie’s producers to create publicity for the Museum and how popularity of the film was used to spark public interest in visiting the Museum and its collections.
This Press Office file outlines how the Museum sought to generate this attention, including overviews of Museum press and TV coverage. Meetings were held between The Natural History Museum, MCA Merchandising and Universal International Pictures which resulted in a licensing agreement which saw the Museum as one of the 40 licensees to market Jurassic Park branded merchandise.
Advertising strategies are also discussed and from the file we see how Universal International Pictures agreed to distribute posters on behalf of The Natural History Museum to cinemas within the M25 radius so that the Museum was prominently advertised alongside the film.
Correspondence concerning themed events, such as lectures given by John Horner, the palaeontologist who inspired the Jurassic Park books, also features here and gives insight into the amount of work undertaken by the Museum’s staff in order to develop an engaging dinosaur and film related programme of public events.
No blockbuster movie is launched without a star-studded premiere and Jurassic Park’s offered just that. Held in 1993 and organised by the Museum, the premiere was again attended by Museum Patron, HRH The Princess of Wales, and was held in aid of The Natural History Museum and Turning Point, with all proceeds split between the two charities. The post-premier party hosted by Universal International Pictures was held in the Museum’s Central Hall where, according to the file guests were treated to ‘dinosaur themed food’!
This Press Office file is just one of the recently catalogued archive files that deal with publicity and media communications undertaken by the Museum during the 1990s, if you are interested in discovering more about the history of the Museum and its records please visit Archive webpages or contact the Museum Archive for more information or to arrange a visit.