The famous skeleton that greets visitors to London’s National History Museum is being flat-packed to temporarily make way for a blue whale skeleton that was found in Wexford. The move to pack away the iconic dinosaur skeleton, fondly nicknamed ‘Dippy’, started last Thursday and will take about three weeks before it gets ready to embark on a nationwide tour.
A six-person team are busy packing away the 292 bones on display, which is expected to fill 12 crates that will be able to be reassembled in four days.
The 26-metre-long plaster- cast replica has had pride of place in the Hintze Hall of the museum since 1905, and it is not expected to return until at least 2020, as museum bosses felt it was the best way it could be enjoyed by all around the country. Replacing Dippy is the blue whale skeleton that has hung above the life-size model of a blue whale in the Mammal Hall since 1938.
The whale was found beached and injured by whalers in Wexford Harbour, Ireland, in 1891. The population of blue whales suffered a huge decrease in numbers following the popularity of whaling in the early twentieth century, but has started to recover since whales gained protected status in the 1960s.
The whale is the largest animal to have ever lived, and has a fascinating evolutionary history, from sea to land and back again. While the Diplodocus is an iconic centrepiece, dinosaurs are only one facet of the research carried out at the Museum.
“This is an important and necessary change,’ said museum director Sir Michael Dixon.
“As guardians of one of the world’s greatest scientific resources, our purpose is to challenge the way people think about the natural world, and that goal has never been more urgent. The blue whale serves as a poignant reminder that while abundance is no guarantee of survival, through our choices, we can make a real difference.”