Dippy the Diplodocus is on the move in Natural History Museum overhaul

Dippy the Diplodocus, who has occupied the Natural History Museum’s entrance hall for 35 years, is to be replaced by a Blue Whale in an overhaul led by Casson Mann.

Dippy the Diplodocus

Source: Sally Crossthwaite

Dippy the Diplodocus

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.”

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  • adam white November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    What a ludicrous idea that visitors need ‘authenticity’ to be thrilled and inspired by the signature entrance focus that the diplodocus has been for decades. The V&A has rightly renovated its plaster cast section of exhibits that allow them to show fantastic objects from around the world that otherwise would be impossible to see. This smacks of the arrogance of some designers who wrongly believe change and controversy are our currency. They are powerful tools we should only use with the greatest consideration to the user and this is not in evidence here

  • Tim Burley November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Why shouldn’t they change it if they want to? The blue whale will look amazing in the space. “Change is a powerful tool that we should only use with the greatest consideration?” Oh please.

  • Merlin Duff November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I wonder if this is the sign of a larger strategic change within the NHM — more preference for those animals we can still save than those that have already gone?

    If this is the case, why isnt it getting coverage? It seems like it should.

    If this isn’t the case, then all this is just a lot of fuss over not much.

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