Dippy, the Natural History Museum’s famous diplodocus, is being replaced by a blue whale skeleton. He’s not the first to get booted out of the museum’s entrance hall, though. Here’s a timeline of its last 130 years.
1880s: Having a whale of a time
When the Natural History Museum first opened in the late nineteenth century, it gave its central hall over to a sperm whale skeleton, thus turning the space into an early version of ‘Free Willy’. Except without the freeing. Or the aquatic hijinks. Or the piss-irritating kid. But other than that, exactly like ‘Free Willy’.
1907: Swimming in trunks
Aw, look at him. Ain’t he a show off? His name’s George. George the African elephant. Given his 72-year tenure in the central hall, he’s the real legend of the space.
1979: Jurassic Park
Looks like the NHM wasn’t initially fully convinced of Dippy’s star quality. When they first moved him in, he had a triceratops as a buddy. Sort of like a paleontological equivalent of Little and Large. Except not shit.
1993: The rise of the dino star
Creative differences get the better of the dino band and after their split-up Dippy proves to be the Beyoncé of the group. Scientific differences also get the better of his skeleton when the NHM realises that his tail would’ve been held proudly aloft rather than drooping like a Curly Wurly in a sauna.
2017: Feeling blue
As part of a revamp of its central hall to ‘lay bare the relationship between humans and the natural world’, the NHM shifts its blue whale skeleton (part of the collection since 1891) into pride of place. And the future for Dippy? Undecided. But one plan the museum’s looking at is loaning him to other institutions. Extinction needn’t mean retirement, clearly.
Read more about London’s must-visit museums here.