Dippy the Dinosaur is a plaster cast model of a Diplodocus carnegii. For over one hundred years it stood in the entrance hall of the Natural History Museum in London. But recently the powers that be in the museum decided Dippy had to be replaced. As part of this process, Dippy then went on a three-year farewell tour of various museums around the United Kingdom.
I like many of you I’m sure, have fond memories of visiting Dippy in London. When I found out it would be travelling to the Kelvingrove museum in Glasgow I just had to go along and see it for myself one last time.
DIPPY THE DINSAUR
Dippy is a model cast from a fossilised skeleton which was originally discovered in Wyoming in 1898. The skeleton was acquired by Andrew Carnegie, an American industrialist originally from Scotland. Carnegie wanted the skeleton to be part of his newly founded Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburg. Later the bones were recognised as being from a new species, Diplodocus carnegii.
Carnegie agreed to donate a cast to the Natural History Museum in London as a gift after King Edward VII saw a sketch of the bones. Originally the cast was displayed in the reptile gallery of the museum, which has now become the gallery of Human Biology. In 1979 cast was moved to the main hall and became an iconic representation of the museum.
However Dippy was not the only cast made. Carnegie paid to have additional casts made of the Diplodocus carnegii skeleton. These casts were donated to several museums in Europe and South America with the original skeleton remaining in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
In early 2017 it was decided that Dippy would be removed from the main hall of the Natural History Museum. It would be replaced by a 25-meter long skeleton of a young blue whale. The skeleton of which had been acquired by the museum in 1934 and had originally been displayed in the large mammals’ halls. The decision to remove Dippy was because of the Museums desire to show a genuine skeleton, rather than the cast model of Dippy.
Personally, though I was sad to hear of the museums’ decision. I have to admit that the new whale skeleton which can be seen in the main hall of the Natural History Museum is very impressive.
KELVINGROVE MUSEUM & ART GALLERY
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was opened in 1901. In a way, it has that same grandness of the Natural History Museum. That might be the reason why Dippy seems to fit in so well in the main hall.
If you travel all the way just to see Dippy you might be a bit disappointed. I know I was. This isn’t because Dippy had changed since I last saw it. The problem was that I last saw Dippy as a small kid and I have since grown up. As you can expect it was a tad underwhelming. There is also the fact there is no exhibition to accompany Dippy. You should think of seeing Dippy as one part of a larger visit to the Kelvingrove.
I went on a Saturday in mid-February and was surprised by just how busy the museum was. It’s actually nice seeing the museum so busy. I’ve been regularly over the last few years and this was the busiest I’ve seen the Kelvingrove in a long time.
Dippy will be staying at the Kelvingrove till May 2019. After that it will be continuing its farewell tour at the Great North Museum, the National Assembly for Wales, Number One Riverside and Norwich Cathedral. Even if you can’t make it to Glasgow I would really recommend taking a trip to see Dippy one last time because it’s not clear what will happen after.
It would, however, be interesting if Dippy was reunited with its plaster cast cousins. I know I would travel a long way to see multiple Dippys in the same place.
THINGS TO SEE AT THE KELVINGROVE
There is of course much more to see at the Kelvingrove than just Dippy. Also running from February to May is an exhibition of twelve drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. These drawings are on loan from the Royal Collection and are part of a larger exhibition. To mark the 500th anniversary of his death twelve venues across the UK are displaying different drawings from the collection, 144 in total. The Kelvingrove is the only Scottish museum to be part of the display.
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Again, even if you can’t make it to Glasgow I would highly recommend visiting this exhibition if one is on close to you. I couldn’t believe the amount of detail in these small sketches. And how well they had been preserved. It honestly blows my mind that we can look at these drawings 500 years after they were made.
If you like Charles Rennie Macintosh (which I personally don’t), the Kelvingrove is a great place to visit as they have a collection of items showcasing his work. It is also a great place to visit if you have an interest in European art.
One piece in particular at the Kelvingrove is what a friend of mine likes to refer to as Whistler’s father. If you’ve ever seen the Bean movie with Rowan Atkinson you will know of Whistler’s mother. The artist James McNeill Whistler was asked by Thomas Carlyle to paint his portrait in a similar style to Whistler’s Mother. Even though the original Whistler’s Mother is in the Musee d’Orsay you can still see something similar in Glasgow.
If you ever happen to be in the Kelvingrove around lunch I would highly recommend sticking around for the organ recital. The Kelvingrove has a huge organ which takes up one of the walls in the main hall. There is a recital every day at 1 pm Monday to Saturday and at 3 pm on Sundays.
The music played is usually a mix of classical and more modern songs. When I was there visiting Dippy the organist played a very interesting version of Come Alive from The Greatest Showman. This is usually when the museum is at its busiest so you can plan your day around it.
I really enjoyed my trip to see Dippy. Though it wasn’t nearly as big as I remember it was still a nice trip down memory lane. The Kelvingrove is such an iconic museum it was great getting to see Dippy in it. If you ever get the chance I would highly recommend a trip. Even if you’re too late to see Dippy, there is always something going on.