Dinosaur exhibit is latest national treasure to come to NI

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Dippy the dinosaur goes on display at the Ulster Museum today, until January.

Dippy has been based in the Natural History Museum since 1905 but had never left the capital before going on this tour of the UK.

More than a quarter of a million people saw the exhibit in Birmingham, and now Belfast is the third location in an eight-venue itinerary over three years.

This is the latest example of a new trend towards opening up the treasures of the nation to all of its parts.

In 2002 and then again a decade later, to mark the Queen’s golden and diamond jubilees, drawings by the renaissance artistic genius Leonardo da Vinci went on display at the Ulster Museum from the royal collection.

Another da Vinci exhibition is coming up there next year to mark 500 years since his birth.

The sharing of such exhibits is in parallel with the opening up of royal properties, such as Buckingham Palace and soon to include some of the grounds of Hillsborough Castle.

The remains of the 150-million-year-old dinosaur known as Dippy were found in Wyoming in 1898, and bought by the super rich Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Mr Carnegie was determined to use his fortune to help educate people, which is why he built thousands of libraries in English speaking countries.

It is fitting therefore that primary school pupils were among the first people to see a preview of Dippy yesterday.

Dylan, aged eight, from Botanic Pimary, said he was amazed at how long the dinosaur was. No wonder: the skeleton is more than 100 feet long.

When the News Letter was first published in 1737 barely anything was known about dinosaurs. It was more than a century before the name dinosaur was even created.

The public understanding of dinosaurs has expanded vastly in that time, and now one of the great exhibits is in Northern Ireland, for all to see.