I blame seeing Jurassic Park at an impressionable age, but I’ve always had a soft spot for dinosaurs. I think they’re an easy thing to romanticise, the idea of these big majestic beasts roaming a land, the big bad of the T-Rex, the mischievous velociraptors. But for me it’s all about the awe, the reminder of these giant creatures roaming the lands well before we got here and the idea of what will come once humans have left too.
So when the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery announced they were playing hosts to dippy, the Natural History Museum’s famous diplodocus, I knew it would be a case of not if but when I would go see him. It’s a bit of a tour of the country for Dippy, who is staying in Birmingham until early September, but all in all going on an eight-location tour with the hope of 1.5 million people across the UK seeing Dippy in person whilst he’s on his adventure.
In the end I booked myself a half-day at work. I’d heard that the Edwardian Tea Rooms at BMAG were doing a Dippy-themed children’s menu and never one to be embarrassed by these sort of things, I ordered myself a two-course children’s men; turkey dinosaurs, chips and peas, followed by hot chocolate volcano and ice cream. I even blogged about it over on my food blog Full to the Brum.
Understandably, at 21.3 metres long, 4.3 metres wide and 4.25 metres high, Dippy takes centre stage in the Gas Hall and he’s an impressive sight. Dippy isn’t actually the bones of a diplodocus, rather a plaster cast made of one discovered in the Wyoming, USA. King Edward VII saw the sketches of the bones at the Scottish home of Andrew Carnegie (he of Carnegie Hall, among other notable things), who then in turn agreed to donate a cast of the bones to the Natural History Museum. Even still, the height and choice of black plaster makes Dippy an impressive sight, looming like a gentle giant over guests to the hall.
Around the hall are supporting displays of other creatures. Back to that fondness for Jurassic Park, I was rather taken with the velociraptors. Anyone who knows anything about them will tell you they’re not the size of the ones in the Jurassic park/World franchises, usually they get likened to the size of a turkey.
Due to a fire evacuation, I didn’t manage to grab a good photo (this might be a good excuse to go back) but I liked that it wasn’t all just about the past. In the corner of the exhibition is a look towards the present day – and the future. There is a display of the evolved meat-eating theropods, or birds, to you and me. It’s an interesting look at what made birds survive and dinosaurs die out, and also a gentle reminder to visitors (young and old) to be grateful that we can see some of these creatures in the wild, and not confined to bones in a museum.
Dippy is in Birmingham from 26th May – 9th September 2018. Tickets to see him and the exhibition are free, but Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery recommend you book in advance to ensure you get in – particularly good advice now it’s the school summer holidays! To book a ticket, head over to BMAG’s website. And if you’re a fan of dinosaurs then it’s well worth checking out the Lapworth Museum at the University of Birmingham too.