Sunday, 17 January 2016

The shape of things to come...

As many of you will have noticed, the NHM's Dinosaur Gallery is currently closed for some much needed renovation work, and is due to reopen in late February 2016 (though it will open for the week of February half-term, before closing for a few more days after this to finish things off). This isn't a wholesale redevelopment of the gallery - that project is probably a few years distant (at least) and is dependent not only on raising the necessary funds, but also on some complex planning and the completion of several other large-scale museum projects that would need to be finished before the Dinosaur Gallery could be tackled. The current work is aimed at improving some aspects of visitor experience to the gallery (and to the museum as a whole) and in response to changing government health and safety guidelines, with which the museum has to comply.

So, what's changing? I can't reveal too much at this stage, but I can give some insights into what's going on. One of the major drivers for the work is to try and deal with the huge queues for the gallery, which currently lead to frustrating congestion in Hintze Hall. With 5.4 million visitors per year, the museum needs to find ways to enable the movement of people around the building more efficiently. Currently,  the popularity of the Dinosaur Gallery and the large queue that occupies Hintze Hall on busy days is a real barrier to this. The idea behind the current project is to find other ways of managing this queue, by moving it to other areas of the building and by providing a better experience for those people waiting in the queue. Another major driver behind the work is dealing with an engineering issue within the gallery that means some aspects of the way in which it's been used to date need to be altered.

One of the most obvious changes will be a new entrance to the gallery and an altered route for visitors through the various exhibits. However, there will be relatively few alterations to the actual content, so that the vast majority of current exhibits will still be on show. We are taking the opportunity to make some updates, however, with the removal of a few very dated displays, updates to information with specimens where required, a deep clean of all the exhibits, and some other changes reflecting the bird/dinosaur more accurately. So, although the project involves a lot of work, it's mainly an exercise in updating the current gallery rather than a large-scale redevelopment and rethink.

While the gallery is closed it's still possible to see dinosaurs in other parts of the museum - most obviously Sophie the Stegosaurus in our Earth Hall, but also the original Archaeopteryx specimen and Iguanodon teeth in our Treasures Gallery. More dinosaur content can also be found in the From the Beginning Gallery - alongside fossils of many other groups that are otherwise not found elsewhere in the public galleries.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for posting this. The penultimate paragraph is what I've been hoping for since reading Mallison's "NHM Dinosaur Hall: lower level rant". Now the Dinosaur Gallery will have the best of both worlds: On the 1 hand, it'll be easier to walk through & more up-to-date; On the other hand, it'll keep its overarching theme (which is 1 of the best/most unique of any major dino exhibition) & classic mounts. I think the YPM did something similar w/"The Great Hall of Dinosaurs" a few years ago.


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