Dippy the dinosaur's UK tour venues announced
Eight venues will host the Museum's Diplodocus skeleton on its tour of the country, including a cathedral, parliament building and community centre.
The skeleton, affectionately known as Dippy, will travel around the UK from early 2018 to late 2020.
Having delighted visitors since arriving at the Museum in 1905, Dippy will be on public display outside the capital for the first time.
Dippy will visit Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and five regions across England.
The first stop will be Dorset County Museum on the Jurassic Coast, an area with a rich geological history.
After Dorset, the skeleton will travel to:
Dr Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum, says, 'We are so excited to be welcoming Dippy in 2018 at the heart of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
'As the birthplace of palaeontology, there is nowhere in the UK more appropriate for Dippy to start the tour than Dorset, and we're thrilled to have been chosen as the first host venue.
'There are connections to be made between our internationally significant fossil collections and current coastal management, and therefore we're delighted to be working in partnership on this tour with the Jurassic Coast Team and Trust.'
Inspiring the next generation
With support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the tour aims to spark the imagination of a new generation of scientists and connect the nation with nature.
Each partner will use Dippy's visit to showcase their local nature and natural history collections. Along the way, Dippy will draw attention to the rich array of past and present UK biodiversity.
Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, says, 'We wanted Dippy to visit unusual locations so he can draw in people who may not traditionally visit a museum.
'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.'
Philippa Charles, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, adds, 'Generations of children have been awestruck by Dippy's spectacular presence at the heart of the Museum and we hope he continues to inspire the nation to rediscover nature as he works his way round the UK.'
A new chapter
Dippy has been inspiring visitors to the Museum since arriving in London in 1905. The 26-metre-long skeleton has been in the Museum's iconic Hintze Hall since 1979.
The dinosaur's last day on show in London will be 4 January 2017. Conservators will then take 12 months to prepare the delicate plaster-of-Paris cast for its journey.
In summer 2017 a diving blue whale skeleton will take centre stage in Hintze Hall in place of Dippy. The whale was chosen to represent humanity's responsibility to protect the Earth's biodiversity.
Visitors can wish Dippy luck on his journey by taking part in a season of dinosaur-themed events at the Museum, ending with a special New Year's Eve party in Hintze Hall.
- This article was updated on 26 April 2018 to change the venue in Wales from the National Assembly for Wales to National Museum Cardiff.