The Natural History Museum was forced to deny that it is removing Dippy the dinosaur from its main entrance hall to raise more money from corporate events, as an online campaign was launched to save the skeleton.
Dippy will be replaced by the giant skeleton of a blue whale in 2017. Crucially, the whale will be suspended from the hall’s ceiling, freeing up floor space.
Among those shocked at the decision were the author and illustrator James Mayhew, whose children’s book Katie and the Dinosaurs was inspired by Dippy.
“It’s a real shame and I can’t grasp the reason why they would want to do it. I remember my first time going up to London to the museum as a kid – it was very inspiring,” he told The Independent.
“It’s a very clear, recognisable shape and a real symbol of the museum, whereas a whale skeleton is hard to decipher.”
In response to rumours that the move was designed to boost its coffers by increasing lucrative event space in the hall, the museum released its own financial analysis.
“Moving the central specimen and suspending it from the ceiling would only make space for three extra tables at a seated dinner, a 4 per cent increase on the current 71-table total,” a spokesman said.
“We are moving the diplodocus because after 30 years we want to tell our visitors a different story when they first enter the building that better reflects our role as a leading research institute and top UK visitor attraction,” he added.
Not that the museum is uninterested in making money from its entrance hall, which changed its name to Hintze Hall last May, after the hedge-fund manager Sir Michael Hintz made a donation of £5m.
And at £22,000 a day, it is one of London’s most costly corporate venues, recently hosting the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre’s annual Dram’n’Banter Burns Supper.
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