Dippy the Dinosaur has been unveiled to public today at the North East leg of his nationwide tour.
The 292-bone, 21-metre-long cast of a Diplodocus skeleton is in Newcastle until October 6 as part of Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure.
More than 44,000 free tickets have been booked in advance of the Newcastle exhibition, with the dinosaur expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors by the end of the run.
Caroline McDonald, Manager at the Great North Museum: Hancock, said: “It’s a privilege to be the only north east venue on Dippy’s tour and we expect him to be incredibly popular with our visitors. That first glimpse of the skeleton in the exhibition hall is truly breath-taking.
“On 23 May, it will be 10 years since we relaunched as the Great North Museum: Hancock. I can’t think of a better guest to help us celebrate our anniversary summer.”
How to see Dippy
Those planning to see Dippy are advised to book online and guarantee entry to the exhibition hall at their chosen time. Limited walk-up spaces are available each day but queues are likely on weekends and during school holidays for those without pre-booked tickets.
Relaxed sessions are available to book on Sundays (11.15am) and each first Wednesday of the month (4.15pm). These timeslots have a reduced capacity and quieter atmosphere, making them particularly suitable for visitors with autistic spectrum conditions.
Expert conservators from the Natural History Museum have spent the past week piecing together the enormous skeleton, which takes around 50 hours to assemble using specialist lifting equipment.
Director of the Natural History Museum, Sir Michael Dixon, said: “It is with great excitement that Dippy reaches the fifth venue of his UK tour. Having already been seen by one million visitors we are sure that our much loved and charismatic dinosaur will also prove a hit in Newcastle.
“Dippy on Tour has broken visitor number records at every venue so far and had a huge social and economic impact, benefiting the surrounding communities of our touring partner venues.
“We wish Newcastle University’s Great North Museum every success and hope that their visitors will enjoy the fantastic supporting exhibition and array of activities.”
Dippy is being brought to visitors across the UK by the Natural History Museum in partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation, and supported by Dell EMC and Williams & Hill.
So far he has been to Dorchester, Birmingham, Belfast and Glasgow and met more than one million visitors along the way. The dinosaur was previously star attraction at the Natural History Museum for over 100 years.
Curators from the Great North Museum: Hancock have also created a new exhibition throughout the building to accompany the dinosaur.
In the exhibition hall, the backdrop for Dippy is an animated timeline that runs from the Jurassic period to the present day.
The audio-visual installation – produced by local creative studio NOVAK – shows how human activity has affected planet earth and hints at what our future could look like if we continue on the present course.
The other museum galleries, meanwhile, feature special pop-up displays exploring topics such as extinction; endangered and invasive species; fossil fuels; local nature conservation and climate change. An extremely rare taxidermy mount of a Great Auk – a flightless bird that went extinct in the mid-1800s – is one of many highlight objects on temporary display.
Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure is at the Great North Museum: Hancock from 18 May to 6 October. The tour is generously supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation.
Philippa Charles, director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “We are very excited that Dippy is about to meet visitors in Newcastle on the fifth stop of his tour. Having been seen by over one million people at the first four venues, we know he will continue to inspire people to explore the nature on their doorstep and think about the part they play in protecting it.”
A programme of events and activities for all ages running throughout Dippy’s stay will be available to browse in print and online imminently at greatnorthmuseum.org.uk.