Dippy’s Off, But What’s The Real Reason?
The diplodocus has always been there, right in the centre of the Natural History Museum, causing kids to crane their necks and work out how many London buses-long he was (why were dinosaurs always measured in buses?). But after 112 years he’s off. Dippy was the first upright skeleton of a diplodocus ever to have gone on display, and although he’s just a replica (Scots industrialist Andrew Carnegie snaffled the original for his Pittsburgh museum) he’s a symbol of Kensington’s entire museum complex.
He even got to star in the Disney film ‘One of our Dinosaurs is Missing’, and now he’s being replaced by a blue whale, the discovery of whose bones actually predates the dinosaur’s. All well and fine, but it had me wondering. The Natural History Museum is – like all other major London venues, including the zoo – used as an event space at night, and the whale will free up the floor because it’s suspended.
So is this just a way of increasing floor space for cocktails and party guests? My nearest local museum (just a few metres from my door) is the Canal Museum. It’s not much of a museum but popular as a party space throughout the year, which is how it makes its money. The Covent Garden Masonic Lodge (that extraordinary building at the end of Long Acre) was used to host a ‘Spiderman’ premiere. Are museums and galleries being pushed harder to become self-financing?
London’s event spaces are vanishing as property prices soar. I’ve been to events held in old schools, warehouses, train sheds, bus garages, rooftops and car parks, all of which have since been built over or changed. Perhaps it’s the price we pay for keeping beautiful buildings open.