It's a Natural History Adventure in Dorchester!

Tuesday 13 February 2018

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Dippy the Diplodocus has become a national institution during the hundred years or so that he has been living at the National History Museum, but he has never been seen outside of London until now. For the next couple of years, he is on a nationwide tour, with the first of his eight stops at the birthplace of palaeontology in Dorset.

And, Wow!, doesn’t he look majestic in the Victorian Hall at the Dorset County Museum? The Victorian Hall has always been a lovely space, and it has really come alive as the temporary home of Dippy, adored by a continuous line of excited visitors of all ages. Up on the gallery, you can really get up close to him, and look him in the eye, which you could never do in the vast hall at the National History Museum. He looks so friendly, and even a little bit shy – it’s hard to imagine him as a 15 tonne diplodocus “in the wild”, with the earth shaking under his feet as he lumbers about. (Apparently, a diplodocus had to eat all day to feed his huge body – now, doesn’t that seem a wonderful way to live a life?)

Of course, we all know that Dippy isn’t really “real”. He is a life-size model, but now that he is over 100 years old, he is himself a museum piece and also a beautiful work of art. It really doesn’t matter if he is 100 years old or 150 million years old. He still looks amazing in the Victorian Hall, and will no doubt continue to be an inspiration for us all, young and old, for a long time to come. Once he finishes his UK tour, he will be returning to London, where it is suggested that he may be recast in bronze so that he can live outside the main entrance to the NHM.

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It is free to visit Dippy, but you should book your free tickets online. He will be in Dorchester until 18th May. For a modest fee, you can explore the rest of the County Museum, including the Jurassic Gallery complete with the most amazing pliosaur skull – the biggest marine reptile ever to have lived. And this fossil is certainly not a model, it’s the real thing. The museum has further extensive galleries, covering everything Dorset from iron age hill forts and the Romans through to Dorchester’s most famous resident, Thomas Hardy. Well worth a visit – you can read our review here.

And if you are tempted to come down to Dorset to visit Dippy – and who wouldn’t be? – there are also several other wonderful places to see fossils on the Jurassic Coast, including the Etches Collection in Kimmeridge, the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre and Lyme Regis Museum. All well worth a visit in their own right.

Some websites:

Dorset County Museum: http://www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

Etches Collection, Kimmeridge:  http://www.theetchescollection.org

Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre:  https://charmouth.org/chcc

Lyme Regis Museum: www.lymeregismuseum.co.uk

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Visited Dorchester last weekend for a Christening and booked in to Aquila Heights without looking at reviews just on webpage description. The welcome, service, room and food were simply the best we have experienced. Thankyou Derek and Wendy - wonderful hosts. 

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