Dipping into the past: Dippy the Dinosaur captures hearts in Cardiff

Dippy the Diplodocus dinosaur has attracted thousands of visitors to the National Museum, reigniting interest for palaeontology in Cardiff

Dippy is a plaster replica of fossilised dinosaur remains found by American palaeontologist Andrew Carnegie, made for London’s Natural History Museum, in which it has become iconic. It was featured in a 1975 Disney comedy, One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing.

Visitors have been pouring through the doors of the National Musuem since the arrival of Dippy the Dinosaur in October.

The dinosaur, which is a plaster-cast replica of a Diplodocus carnegii skeleton discovered in Wyoming, US, in 1898, is being featured in the museum’s main hall until late January.

The dinosaur, which stands at 13 ft tall and measures an impressive 68 feet long, looms over visitors to the National Museum’s main hall.

Given to London’s Natural History Museum as a gift for trustee King Edward VII, the dinosaur – affectionately nicknamed ‘Dippy’ – left his home in 2017 to tour the UK after being on display for 112 years.

Side and aerial views of the replica. The dinosaur was repositioned several times to reflect changes in scientific opinion on its posture; originally, its tail trailed along the floor, but it was later raised.

So far, the dinosaur’s Cardiff debut has proven immensely popular.

 Sarah Jenkins, from Cardiff, visited the museum on Wednesday with her son Oliver, seven. “The dinosaur is really impressive. Ollie and I were really excited to see him and once we were here, he didn’t want to leave!”

“Since Dippy arrived,  the number of visitors we’ve had has doubled, roughly 105,000 so far. We even had 10,000 people come here in one day,” said Dr Caroline Buttler, Head of Palaeontology at the museum. 

 “Dippy has attracted attention to our other exhibits and has definitely inspired interest in natural history, as well as our local natural history.”

During Dippy’s stay at the museum, an exhibition aimed at encouraging youth engagement with natural history will open on the weekends, featuring work from youth groups on sustainability, fast fashion and the climate crisis.

A model made from clothing, highlighting the issue of fast fashion and species extinction.
Youth posters from an Extinction Rebellion protest in Cardiff are also displayed, ahead of a collaboration event between XR and the youth forum on 7th December. The event will feature family-friendly arts and crafts, with the aim of raising awareness of the 6th Mass Extinction.

Other events are also planned at the museum for the remainder of Dippy’s stay, including a ‘Dippy Dino Night’ sleepover, where visitors will be taken on a torch-lit tour of the museum before setting up their sleeping bags near the dinosaur.

Even the museum shop has been transformed by Dippy’s arrival, selling a range of Dippy-related merchandise, from keychains and plushes to t-shirts.

Dippy will remain in Cardiff until 26th January before moving on to Rochdale in February next year. The dinosaur is free to visit, and information on events during its stay can be found here.