London museum bids farewell to Dippy the dinosaur

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Natural History Museum bids farewell to its most famous exhibit, Dippy the diplodocus, on Wednesday after almost four decades of greeting visitors before being dismantled ahead of a national tour.

For 35 years, the huge skeleton cast, 14 feet high and 21 metres long, has been the first sight visitors see when they enter the London museum's main entrance.

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Dippy the dinosaur
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Dippy the dinosaur

'Dippy' the Diplodocus stands in the great hall at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

'Dippy' the Diplodocus stands in the great hall at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

"Dippy", the moulded resin replica of a fossilised Diplodocus stands in the main hall of the Natural History Museum in London, January 29, 2015. One of Britain's most-loved museum exhibits, the skeleton-cast of Dippy the Diplodocus dinosaur at the Natural History Museum in London, is to be replaced, much to the distress of its many fans. The museum announced on Thursday that Dippy, who has graced its cathedral-like central hall for 35 years, will make way for the bones of a blue whale that has been hanging in a different hall since 1938.

(REUTERS/Andrew Winning)

'Dippy' the Diplodocus stands in the great hall at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge poses with pupils from Oakington Manor Primary School, Wembley, in front of Dippy the Diplodocus, as she attends a children's tea party with pupils from Oakington Manor Primary School in Wembley, at the Natural History Museum to celebrate Dippy the Diplodocus's time in Hintze Hall on November 22, 2016 in London, United Kingdom.

(Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Members of the public walk around 'Dippy' the Diplodocus at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

'Dippy' the Diplodocus stands in the great hall at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Members of the public walk walk around 'Dippy' the Diplodocus at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long (plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Members of the public walk around 'Dippy' the Diplodocus at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge with pupils from Oakington Manor Primary School, Wembley, in front of Dippy the Diplodocus, as she attends a children's tea party with pupils from Oakington Manor Primary School in Wembley, at the Natural History Museum to celebrate Dippy the Diplodocus's time in Hintze Hall on November 22, 2016 in London, United Kingdom.

(Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Members of the public walk around 'Dippy' the Diplodocus at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Members of the public walk around 'Dippy' the Diplodocus at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

'Dippy' the Diplodocus stands in the great hall at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

'Dippy' the Diplodocus stands in the great hall at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long (21.3m) plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Members of the public walk walk around 'Dippy' the Diplodocus at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Members of the public walk walk around 'Dippy' the Diplodocus at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

'Dippy' the Diplodocus stands in the great hall at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Members of the public walk walk around 'Dippy' the Diplodocus at Natural History Museum on January 4, 2017 in London, England. The 70ft long plaster-cast sauropod replica, which is made up of 292 bones, is set to leave the Natural History Museum in London, where it has been for 109 years, before going on a national tour. Dippy will be replaced by an 83 foot long real skeleton of a Blue Whale, which will be hung from the ceiling.

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Circa 1950: Experts re-erecting a Diplodocus dinosaur at the Natural History Museum after it has come out of storage where it was placed during World War II.

(Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

"Dippy", the moulded resin replica of a fossilised Diplodocus stands in the main hall of the Natural History Museum in London, January 29, 2015. One of Britain's most-loved museum exhibits, the skeleton-cast of Dippy the Diplodocus dinosaur at the Natural History Museum in London, is to be replaced, much to the distress of its many fans. The museum announced on Thursday that Dippy, who has graced its cathedral-like central hall for 35 years, will make way for the bones of a blue whale that has been hanging in a different hall since 1938.

(REUTERS/Andrew Winning)

Visitors stream past "Dippy", the moulded resin replica of a fossilised Diplodocus in the main hall of the Natural History Museum in London, January 29, 2015. One of Britain's most-loved museum exhibits, the skeleton-cast of Dippy the Diplodocus dinosaur at the Natural History Museum in London, is to be replaced, much to the distress of its many fans. The museum announced on Thursday that Dippy, who has graced its cathedral-like central hall for 35 years, will make way for the bones of a blue whale that has been hanging in a different hall since 1938.

(REUTERS/Andrew Winning)

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On Thursday, a team begins the three-week process of dismantling Dippy before conservators spend 12 months preparing the delicate plaster-of-Paris cast for the journey around Britain where it will go on show at eight locations from 2018 until 2020.

From the end of 2020, a bronze cast of Dippy will then go on display outside the museum.

Scottish-born American industrialist Andrew Carnegie originally presented the 292-bone cast to the museum in 1905, and it has held its prominent position in the main entrance hall since 1979.

16 PHOTOS
Various dinosaur fossils and skeletons
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Various dinosaur fossils and skeletons
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Photo taken on July 29, 2014 shows a 34 cm long phalanx of a Sauropoda dinosaur, discovered during excavations in Angeac-Charente, central-western France. A student in paleontology found the fossil on July 25. The world's largest Sauropoda thigh bone was found on this site in summer 2010. The site was discovered in 2008 and is actively searched since January 2010. AFP PHOTO / JEAN PIERRE MULLER (Photo credit should read JEAN PIERRE MULLER/AFP/Getty Images)
7.5 inch solid resin cast from a Giganotosaurus dinosaur tooth, the U shaped groove along the root shaft of the tooth is where the replacement tooth have been growing. (Photo by: Independent Picture Service/UIG via Getty Images)
Fossilized skull of a Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis, thick headed lizard, dinosaur from the Cretaceous Period. (Photo By: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
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Dippy will be replaced by a 25.2 metre real skeleton of a blue whale as part of a major overhaul.

Diplodocus was first described as a new type of dinosaur in 1878 by Professor Othniel C. Marsh at Yale University. The herbivore species lived sometime between 156 and 145 million years ago and belongs to a group called sauropods, meaning 'lizard feet'.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)

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