The Natural History Museum has announced plans to send its famous Diplodocus, Dippy, on tour around the UK and any venue with a room big enough to house the huge skeletal remains can apply to host it.
Dippy is the British icon that has inspired generations of scientists.
The Museum will hold an open call starting tomorrow (September 1) for indoor museums and venues to nominate themselves to host the Diplodocus from early 2018.
The tour will mean more people than ever can see the iconic dinosaur which has famously welcomed millions of people to the London museum.
The ambition is for Dippy to visit all the nations of the UK, with a programme of events and educational activities in the venue and across a host city.
Key considerations for venues will be space, security and the scope to reach a large and diverse audience. The open call launches tomorrow and venues can register interest via www.nhm.ac.uk/dippyontour
Sir Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said: “For many of us, that first glimpse of Dippy was a formative moment in our childhood, evoking awe and a genuine wonder at the natural world.
“A UK tour of this iconic dinosaur will surely prompt curiosity and a desire to explore, helping to inspire the scientists of tomorrow.
“Generating those ‘lights on’ moments for as many people as possible is at the heart of what museums give to the nation.”
He continues: “Dippy needs to be handled carefully: it has taken our conservators several months to be sure that, with care and the right systems in place, it would be possible to tour.”
“We are committed to making iconic items in the national collections more accessible, working with partners around the UK to so that museums around the country can all benefit.”
“However, we have never sent anything as big as Dippy beyond the Museum. We already know the costs of touring a Diplodocus will be substantial, depending on where the tour visits and how many places it goes. Over the months ahead we will be looking for partners to help us realise our vision of as many people in the UK seeing Dippy as possible.”
In summer 2017 a diving blue whale skeleton will be suspended in Dippy’s place as part of a re-display of Hintze Hall.
Mr Dixon said it is an important and necessary change which marks the beginning of a decade of transformation for the Museum.
As it tours the country, the Diplodocus will need to be taken apart and re-built at each venue. The logistics of moving the dinosaur means that each venue will be expected to host Dippy for a minimum of 4-6 months.
The full skeleton in its displayed pose is 21.3 metres long, 4.3 metres wide and 4.25 metres high, and venues would need to have additional space around to allow for installation and visitors.
In the long term, the Museum plans for Dippy to always be on show and accessible to the public.