The news that the 26m-long plaster dinosaur skeleton is to be moved out of the museum’s main hall to make way for a blue whale quickly set Twitter alight.
Hundreds of people voiced their surprise and outrage at the move on the social network, using the hashtag #SaveDippy, and signed an online petition calling for the decision to be dropped.
No no no. Fake bones he maybe he's our bones! Nothing better than seeing people's first reaction to him in HIS place #dippythedinosaur— straymoose (@straymoose101) January 29, 2015
From summer 2017, Dippy will be replaced by the 25.2m-long real skeleton of a blue whale,
suspended and “diving” from the ceiling of the Hintze Hall.
The change is part of a “decade of transformation” planned at the museum by its director, Michael Dixon.
He explained that the museum wanted to focus on the “real and authentic” and tell a story that is relevant to the natural world today.
Dippy is a fake — one of 10 replicas around the world based on the near-complete skeleton of a real diplodocus unearthed in Wyoming, US, in 1898 and housed at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.
In contrast the female blue whale is the genuine article. The huge creature was found beached at the mouth of Wexford Harbour, on March 25, 1891, after being injured by a whaler.
Its bones were sold to the Natural History Museum for £250 and eventually put on public display with the opening of the Mammal Hall in 1938.
Future plans for Dippy are uncertain but include the possibility of a national tour and making a copy of him out of more durable material that can stand in the museum grounds.
Eventually, the resin skeleton is expected to find a new resting place in one of the museum’s galleries.
“As the largest known animal to have ever lived on Earth, the story of the blue whale reminds us of the scale of our responsibility to the planet.
“This makes it the perfect choice of specimen to welcome and capture the imagination of our visitors, as well as marking a major transformation of the museum.
“This is an important and necessary change.”
Dippy was unveiled in the Natural History Museum’s Reptile Gallery on May 12, 1905.
He was donated to the museum by Scottish-born US millionaire and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie after King Edward VII saw an illustration of the original skeleton and asked for a copy.
The skeleton, which contains 356 plaster cast bones, was constructed over a period of 18 months and shipped to England in 36 crates.
Dippy isn't just an anachronistic fake skeleton, she's an historic royal commission and a work of art! #savedippy day 2— James Mayhew 🎨🌈 (@mrjamesmayhew) January 30, 2015
To avoid damage during the Blitz, Dippy was taken apart and stored in the Natural History Museum’s basement. In 1979, he was rebuilt and given pride of place in the central hall.