Two years ago, the world-famous Natural History Museum in London made the decision to replace their longstanding exhibit, Dippy the Diplocodus with another marvel, a 126 year-old blue whale named Hope. But who is she? And what is the significance of this somewhat controversial replacement?
Hope, who measures a whopping 25 metres in length and weighs over 4000 kilos, was found stranded in Wexford Harbour, Ireland over 100 years ago. She was subsequently purchased by the museum in 1891 for £250 and displayed in the institution’s Mammal Hall above a life-sized replica of a blue whale, essentially out of sight and out of mind.
The act of bringing Hope centre stage forms part of the museum’s plan to employ a ‘decade of transformation’ – a decision made by the Natural History Museum’s Director Sir Michael Dixon. Hope represents the museum’s commitment to conservation and illustrates ‘humanity’s power to shape a sustainable future’. At the time of her purchase, she represented only one of 250,000 blue whales in the wild. The population has since dwindled and it is estimated that there are only 20,000 in our waters.
The new resident of the Natural History Museum’s Hintze Hall serves as ‘a poignant reminder that while abundance is no guarantee of survival, through our choices, we can make a real difference. There is hope.’
The preparation leading up to Hope’s reveal last Thursday (13th July) took a team of experts two years to instigate the move. It is clear that Hope is here to stay and it is unlikely Dippy will make a come back any time soon.
But fear not Dippy fans, he is currently being restored in Canada in preparation for a 2-year tour around the United Kingdom which begins next Spring:
- Dorset County Museum, February – May 2018
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, May – September 2018
- Ulster Museum, September 2018 – January 2019
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, January – May 2019
- Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne, May – October 2019
- National Assembly for Wales, October 2019 – January 2020
- Number One Riverside, Rochdale, February – June 2020
- Norwich Cathedral, July – October 2020
Until then, visitors are encouraged to view the Natural History Museum’s newest spectacle, completely free of charge.