Dippy the Diplodocus begins UK tour
Dippy the Diplodocus skeleton has been installed in Dorset, the first stop of a UK-wide tour.
Until now the dinosaur had never been on public display outside London. But visitors to Dorset County Museum will be able to see him until 7 May.
After leaving Dorset, the skeleton will travel to seven other partner venues, ending the tour in Norwich in 2020.
It is hoped that the iconic skeleton will encourage families and schools up and down the UK to explore nature on their doorstep.
Each partner will use Dippy's visit to showcase their local nature and natural history collections, and the tour will draw attention to the rich array of past and present UK biodiversity.
Director of the Dorset County Museum, Dr Jon Murden, says, 'We are so excited to be welcoming Dippy. As the birthplace of palaeontology, there is nowhere in the UK more appropriate for Dippy to start his 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.'
The full skeleton in its displayed pose is 26 metres long, 4.3 metres wide and 4.17 metres high. Conservators have taken the past 12 months to prepare the delicate plaster-of-Paris cast for its journey.
Harry Swift, 11, from Eastleigh in Hampshire, completed the installation of the Dippy cast alongside the Museum's Head of Conservation, Lorraine Cornish.
Together they lowered the final bone into place, ready for the dinosaur's big unveiling.
Harry's mother, Teresa Swift, says, 'Harry is so thrilled that he has the honour of starting Dippy on Tour. It's a dream come true, having seen Dippy in London a few years ago. We are all so excited for him.'
A diving blue whale skeleton replaced Dippy in the Museum's Hintze Hall in the summer of 2017.
Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, says, 'Making iconic items accessible to as many people as possible is at the heart of what museums give to the nation.
'We wanted Dippy to visit unusual locations so he can draw in people who may not traditionally visit a museum, and we've made sure he will still be free to view at each stop on his tour.
'Working with our eight partners we look forward to inspiring five million people to discover the wonders of natural history, encouraging children across the UK to develop a passion for science and nature. Dippy has a special place in all our hearts - few museum objects are better known, and fewer still can better evoke the awesome diversity of species that have lived on Earth.'
Dippy on Tour is in partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation.