Hintze Hall. Natural History Museum. London.
The first thing you would see when you walked through the grand entrance was Dippy. A beautiful cast of a Diplodocus fossil that towered over you. He is amazing. Not surprisingly, he is probably the most important cast of a fossil in the UK.
I’m not going to lie, I’m sad that Dippy has been taken away from Hintze Hall. I’ve visited the museum several times (because it is just the best) and it isn’t the same without him. I mean, I do like his replacement – Hope the blue whale. She allows more space in the hall because she is hanging from the ceiling rather than being on the ground. But, she is no Dippy.
Now, Dippy is touring various locations in the UK until 2020. After that? I’ve no idea what is in store for Dippy. But, for now, we might as well visit Dippy at the free exhibits around the country.
So, on Friday we went to visit Dippy (by we I mean me, my boyfriend Gareth and our ace friend Alice). The nearest place to us on Dippy’s tour was Birmingham (as we live in Nottingham) so we thought it would be best to visit there. My hopes were fairly high if I’m honest, I thought that Dippy, as this is an exhibition about him, would be pride of place and magnificent. How disappointed we all were.
The hall was dark and gloomy. The vinyl was peeling off the walls. The shop was near empty. In all in, it was a bit shabby. It was deeply upsetting that Dippy, this amazing Diplodocus, wasn’t in this incredible hall like the one in the Natural History Museum. It was underwhelming.
On top of that, the vinyl which you could read, was super patronising. It was clearly aimed at children and very young ones at that. Children should of course be encouraged to learn about dinosaurs as they are a super important part of our natural history. But, and this is a big but, dinosaurs are not just for children. I am fed up that every time dinosaurs are mentioned it is thought that they are for children. Dinosaurs are for everyone to learn about. The things they can teach us are important for everyone to hear – not just children. This extends to Dippy. The exhibition was so basic and so patronising it was cringe worthy.
Not only that but the exhibition was about birds. From what I understand, each venue has a different exhibition surrounding Dippy about dinosaurs. So, Dorset (which was the first venue) had an exhibition about the Jurassic Coast which is obviously part of Dorset’s heritage and incredibly important in the history of the UK. Birmingham clearly went for the bird approach, in the way that dinosaurs evolved into birds which is a phenomenon which people are still coming to terms with.
However, my problem is that, whilst it is important to discuss that dinosaurs did evolve into birds, this has nothing to do with Dippy. You shove Dippy in this dark, shabby hall and then surround it with an exhibition on birds? It seems rather strange to be honest. There was a cool velociraptor fossil and a dodo skeleton but this was a stark contrast to the grandeur of Dippy. Dippy was part of the sauropods, the great giants of the dinosaur era, meanwhile the birds evolved from a select few of the theropods. Dippy did not evolve into a bird. So, to surround it with an exhibition about birds is bizarre. In fact, there was barely any information on Dippy at all which was disappointing.
There are only three good things that came from going to see Dippy. One being that the exhibit was busier than I expected. It was midday on a Friday when the kids have gone back to school, I thought it would be fairly quiet. But no, clearly there is still an overwhelming interest in dinosaurs and of course Dippy.
Secondly, I got to spend an amazing day with the two best people. And thirdly, we went on to visit the Lapworth Museum of Geology which was the complete opposite of seeing Dippy. The museum is lovely; situated on the University of Birmingham campus, it is light and open with loads of information on every wall. As you walk in, you are confronted with Roary the Allosaurus (pride of place, like Dippy should have been) and a pteranodon flying above you. The exhibit details each period of time in the Earth’s natural history, all the way from the Precambrian to today. It was so informative and so interesting. Honestly, I could’ve spent all day there.
Ultimately, I would definitely recommend visiting the Lapworth Museum of Geology and I wouldn’t recommend going to see Dippy in Birmingham. However, Dippy has already moved on as I am writing this so you don’t really have the choice to go see him in Birmingham. I plan to go see Dippy in one of the other venues so I see a different part of the country’s exhibition and see if it is any better.
Dippy on Tour in Birmingham – 3/10
The Lapworth Museum of Geology – 10/10