Regular readers of my blogs will know that Sebastian is dinosaur mad and we often plan our days out around his favourite subject.
Like many children his age, Sebastian can rattle off the scientific names of dozens of dinosaurs, tell you what they looked like, what they ate and where they lived, so when we discovered Dippy was going on tour and his first stop was our home county, we just had to go and see him.
Dippy, the much-loved Diplodocus skeleton cast that held centre stage at the Natural History Museum in London was replaced with a blue whale skeleton in December 2016 and instead of just putting him in storage, it was decided to send him on a natural history adventure across the UK.
Why is Dippy visiting Dorset?
Dorset is home to the Jurassic Coast, which is one the UK’s best sites for understanding the world at the time of the dinosaurs and the is birth place of palaeontology with many of the fossil marine reptiles finds at the Natural History Museum coming from here.
Some of the best beaches for fossil hunting can be found in Dorset and Dippy has chosen the best time to visit as the stormy weather helps churn exciting finds up to the surface, with them getting caught behind bigger boulders and rocks.
To mark the arrival of Dippy, Dorchester’s Brewery Square have created an interactive trail of Diplodocus footprints, to guide visitors to their final destination and the kids loved finding the footprints, despite the rain – especially the ones which had some fun facts about the dinosaur himself.
We were some of the first people to see Dippy in his temporary new home in the Victorian Hall at Dorset County Museum.
As we opened the giant double doors, it strikes you just how big he is.
Dippy is one of the largest creatures that ever lived and measures a staggering 21.3m in
length, 4.3m wide and 4.2m tall. Little Sebby didn’t even reach his knees!!
The Victorian Hall itself is magnificent – the perfect home for Dippy. Just make sure to look down as well as up, as the floor of the Victorian Hall is one of the few places in Europe where you can actually walk on a Roman mosaic and there is still plenty to see despite Dippy’s base partially covering it.
There were plenty of staff on hand to answer all your questions as well as a replica of his skull for you to touch and hold, or even try to put on your own head!
As you walk around the ground floor of the hall, there were lots of plaques on display containing fun facts about where Dippy lived, what he weighed and what he ate.
The best view of Dippy was up on the gallery upstairs. You could walk all around Dippy’s skeleton and in front of his skull is a clear window so you can get your very own photo with Dippy himself.
Sebby spent ages studying Dippy and got upset at one point as he wanted to see him with “his skin on”. I think he is secretly hoping that he will see a dinosaur for real one day.
There are lots of Dippy-themed events going on throughout his stay in Dorset, both at the Museum and also across the county. At the museum during our visit, there were cardboard hats for the kids to make, which they proudly wore all around the museum.
I have not been to Dorset County Museum before, so we took the opportunity to have a look around this independent museum, which owned and managed by the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society. Sebby was super excited to spot the Old Museum Clock, from CBeebies Andy’s Dinosaur Adventure’s. The clock whisks Andy back in time to meet the dinosaurs face to face.
The museum isn’t huge, but it is full of interesting things to see and do with the family, with information and displays depicting the county’s history.
With the exception of the dinosaur section, it was the Roman and Viking history that caught the imagination of the kids.
They seemed particularly taken with playing the Viking game of Hnefatafl, a game of strategy somewhat similar to chess (I think).
I am not entirely sure they understood all the rules, but they spent ages playing the game. In a nutshell, there are two teams and each team has different goals; an attacking team, and a defending team. The attacker’s goal is to capture the king, while the defenders goal is to let the king escape. The attacker also gets twice as many pieces, yet it is the defender that really has the advantage………… (nope, I don’t have a clue either).
Other highlights are the museum is the information on a host of famous Dorset literary figures, including Thomas Hardy.
There were dressing up boxes dotted around the museum and some interactive displays to keep the kids happy.
Hardy’s classroom was fun as each old-fashioned desk had fun facts to find inside.
The final room of the museum was the one dedicated to the Jurassic Coast, so Sebby was back in dinosaur heaven.
One of the extraordinary fossils found on the Jurassic Coast is the skull of a Pliosaur, a mega-predator of the Jurassic sea which can also be found on display here.
Tickets to see Dippy are free, but it is expected to be very popular so it is wise to book them
in advance by visiting www.dorsetcountymuseum.org/dippyontour
Dippy on Tour will be visiting the following venues over the next two years of his tour:
- Dorset County Museum, 10 February – 7 May 2018
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 26 May – 9 September 2018
- Ulster Museum, 28 September 2018 – 6 January 2019
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, 22 January – 5 May 2019
- Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne, 18 May – 6 October 2019
- National Assembly for Wales, 19 October 2019 – 26 January 2020
- Number One Riverside, Rochdale, 10 February – 28 June 2020
- Norwich Cathedral, 11 July – 31 October 2020
Will you be heading to see Dippy on his tour?