Work under way to install Dippy the dinosaur in Norwich Cathedral’s Nave
8 July 2021
Dippy, the Natural History Museum’s iconic dinosaur, has been travelling the country inspiring people about the natural world and now work is under way to assemble the famous Diplodocus cast in the final place on his tour – Norwich Cathedral.
The Nave of the 900-year-old Norman Cathedral will be Dippy’s home for nearly four months, with the Dippy on Tour exhibition running from Tuesday 13 July 2021 until Saturday 30 October 2021.
Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure is being brought to Norwich Cathedral and visitors across the UK by the Natural History Museum in partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation, and supported by Dell EMC and Williams & Hill. Norwich Cathedral is the eighth and final stop on the tour and Barratt and Cooke is the regional sponsor for the exhibition.
Dippy arrived at the Cathedral on Monday 5 July, carefully packed up in 16 crates carried by a series of lorries. The Cathedral’s Nave is currently closed to the public while a specialist team of four technicians and two conservators work hard to reassemble the 26 metre-long (85ft) Jurassic giant ready for the opening of the exhibition at 1pm on Tuesday 13 July.
The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Jane Hedges, said: “After all this time preparing for Dippy’s visit, it is incredibly exciting to finally have Dippy here, being built inside Norwich Cathedral.
“It is absolutely fascinating to see the progress of this amazing creature being put together in the Nave and we cannot wait to open the Dippy on Tour exhibition next week.
“We really hope that Dippy’s visit will bring great delight to people of all ages and that it will also spark constructive conversations about the relationship between faith and science, about everyone’s responsibility to help protect the planet, and about many other important subjects too.”
It is painstaking work reassembling Dippy as he has 356 bones in his skeleton, or 292 bones if his skull and jaw are counted as one. 73 of his bones are in his tail, 15 vertebrae are in his neck (mammals today have no more than seven) and he has nearly 60 bones in his hands and feet.
Dippy is a plaster of Paris replica based on the fossilised bones of a Diplodocus found in 1899 by railroad workers in Wyoming, USA. At the time, newspapers billed the discovery as the ‘most colossal animal ever on Earth’ and the sheer scale of the Diplodocus, which roamed the planet 155 to 145 million years ago, has continued to fascinate people the world over ever since.
Dippy was created between 1903 and 1904, and first arrived at the Natural History Museum in London in 1905. He was unveiled to the public on Friday 12 May 1905 and was the first Diplodocus to go on display anywhere in the world.
Since Dippy left his London home and embarked on his Natural History Adventure tour in 2018, he has visited Dorset, Birmingham, Belfast, Glasgow, Newcastle upon Tyne, Cardiff and Rochdale.
His final stop on his tour is perhaps his most unique, as his visit to Norwich Cathedral will be the first time Dippy has ever been displayed inside a cathedral.
Freya Stannard, Head of National Programmes at The Natural History Museum, said: “We are thrilled to be bringing Dippy to Norwich Cathedral for the eighth and final stop of Dippy on Tour.
“The magnificent building is the perfect destination to bring a close to Dippy’s nationwide tour which launched all the way back in 2017 and has seen record numbers of visitors attend each venue.
“We hope that once again Dippy will continue to inspire visitors and foster a long-term respect for the natural world to create a future where both people and planet thrive.”
While Dippy is being assembled in Norwich Cathedral’s Nave, the finishing touches are also being put to many other aspects of the exhibition, including a time tunnel in the Cloister being created by pupils from Norwich School and other local schools, and a wave of more than 1,000 fish being constructed in the Hostry by Norfolk artist Mark Reed for his sculpture Your Waves Go Over Me.
Running alongside the main exhibition, final preparations are also being made for a special programme of Dippy-inspired events featuring everything from film nights to dino tales and talks.
The Dippy on Tour exhibition will open to the public from 1pm on Tuesday 13 July, and from then on it will usually be open six days a week until Saturday 30 October 2021. The opening times will be 10am-4pm Monday to Friday and 9.30am to 5.30pm on Saturdays. From Friday 30 July, people will also be able to visit Dippy every Friday evening from 7pm until 9pm.
Philippa Charles, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “We are overjoyed that Dippy is finally able to conclude his national adventure in the iconic Norwich Cathedral, and get back to his mission to inspire people to explore the nature on their doorstep. Dippy’s purpose has never had more importance and we are so pleased that Norwich Cathedral is enabling people to visit Dippy safely.”
Entry to the Dippy on Tour exhibition at Norwich Cathedral will be free and there will be no need to book in advance (unless part of a group of more than six people), although people may need to queue during busy periods. Norwich Cathedral and the Natural History Museum are working together closely to ensure that visitors will be able to enjoy the exhibition safely and visitors will need to adhere to the latest Covid regulations at all times.
Dippy’s home in the east is also a busy working Cathedral and the Cathedral’s daily pattern of worship will continue throughout Dippy’s visit. The Dippy exhibition will be closed on Sundays and there will also be other occasions when opening times may vary. All the latest details will be made available on the Dippy pages of the Cathedral website.
The East End of the Cathedral will also continue to be open daily for general Cathedral visitors and those who wish to explore more of the Cathedral before or after they have seen Dippy.
For all the latest details about Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure at Norwich Cathedral, go to the dedicated Dippy page on the Norwich Cathedral website.
All photos are (c) Bill Smith, Norwich Cathedral