Dippy the dinosaur, the beloved Diplodocus, will be officially retired from its spot in the Natural History Museum’s main hall after a whopping 109 years at the museum. Instead, the museum plans to move the 83 foot long skeleton of a Blue Whale from its centerpiece in the Mammal Hall to the main hall area, known as the Hintze Hall. Such a move is supposed to bring more attention to the plight of living mammals today, and be a commentary on environmental destruction. Dippy still has a couple of years to reign supreme in the main hall before possibly going on a tour around the United Kingdom.
As Sir Michael Dixon, the director of the Natural History Museum, states, “Everyone loves ‘Dippy’, but it’s just a copy, and what makes this museum special is that we have real objects from the natural world – over 80 million of them – and they enable our scientists and thousands like them from around the world to do real research.” Dippy was originally donated to the museum by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie after King Edward IV asked for a copy of an original Diplodocus that was displayed at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Dippy was created by making plasters of the original, and then shipped over to England.
Unsurprisingly, people are upset by the change and the possibility of no longer being able to visit Dippy. A petition to keep the Diplodocus, simply named ‘Saved Dippy,’ has already been created and has over 14,000 signatures.
The whale was chosen to replace the plaster dinosaur to better illustrate their idea of the “three great narratives.” According to BBC, “These cover the origins and evolution of life, the diversity of life on Earth today, and the long-term sustainability of humans’ custodianship of the planet.”
As Sir Dixon aptly states, “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 very resources on which modern society relies are under threat. Species and ecosystems are being destroyed faster than we can describe them or even understand their significance. 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. There is hope.”
By 2017, the whale will have taken new residency in the Hintze Hall.