The redesign of the Hintze Hall will see Dippy – actually a cast of a dinosaur skeleton – move out of the space. The NHM says the cast may be taken on tour or shown in the ground of the museum before moving to the Dinosaurs Gallery.
Dippy will be replaced by a 25m-long Blue Whale skeleton which is currently on show in the Mammals gallery and will be hung from the ceiling of the Hintze Hall.
Casson Mann has been working on an overhaul of the central hall after winning the work following a 2012 tender.
Consultancy co-founder Roger Mann says one of the key reasons for the decision to move Dippy was a desire for “authenticity” – to show a real skeleton in the entrance hall rather than a cast.
He says: “There was a lot of thinking about what should go there instead – it wouldn’t necessarily be a whale. The space needs a big statement and we looked at ideas for a single large specimen or a group of specimens.
“It became clear that we should aim for a single big thing that would impress and the blue whale is the largest animal ever to have been on Earth.”
The decision to move Dippy has been widely covered in the Press while “Dippy” has been trending on Twitter. Mann says: “It’s a funny thing – obviously the museum has a lot of other objects apart from dinosaurs, but people have an emotional attachment to dinosaurs. We hope they’ll have an emotional attachment to Blue Whales as well.”
He adds: “The Whale has been slightly overshadowed in the Mammal Gallery [where it’s displayed alongside a model]. Also because it’s a swimming object it gives us the option to clear the floor.”
Casson Mann is working on the design of the entire Hintze Hall and its balconies, with the redesign set to complete in 2017.
Mann says: “We’re looking to clear the clutter and create a grown-up solution.” He says that everything with the exception of the Sequoia tree will be moved and replaced by displays of grouped or single objects.
Casson Mann designed the NHM’s Treasures Gallery in 2012 and Mann says that the Hintze Hall design will be a “development” of this thinking. He adds: “We’re looking at good materiality and very much responding to the proportionality of the hall’s architecture.”