Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The Dippy story nobody seems to have mentioned or noticed

While there have been plenty of mentions for the display of ‘Dippy the dinosaur’ in Kelvingrove, there’s a related part of the exhibition which has, sadly, not been widely publicised or, as fas I’ve seen, noticed by the ‘professional’ reviewers of the exhibit.

In fact, I haven’t even spotted any links or mentions of it around the main display of the skeleton (cast) itself.

And that’s a shame, as this small gallery actually tells the story of how Dippy and his ‘brothers’ came into being, as part of a world peace initiative by Andrew Carnegie. There were so many requests for casts “that only the request from the head of the state will be considered.”

Casts were made and sent to museums around the world; Berlin, Bologna, Buenos Aires, St. Petersburg (now in Moscow), Madrid, Mexico City, Munich (never set up, still in storage), Paris, and Vienna. Together with the cast in the British Museum, this was a large program which allowed researchers from all over the world to study the sauropod.


One day in October 1902, King Edward VII paid a surprise visit to Skibo Castle. The King, who apparently wanted to see how Andrew Carnegie managed to incorporate the most modern of technologies in his castle, apparently saw the picture and made either (here stories tend to be in conflict) an offhand request or a special request for a Diplodocus for the British Museum.

Andrew Carnegie, always on the lookout to improve his standing worldwide, immediately went to work. A second original would be hard to find and recreate so the second best option was chosen; a duplicate. Molds were made of the bones and a plaster duplicate was made of every bone. First under the supervision of J.B. Hatcher and, after his untimely death, Dr. Holland.

Diplodocus Carnegii is probably the most copied and accessible large dinosaur in the world. People may wonder; why did Andrew Carnegie donate so many casts and why did he demand requests by heads of state in order to obtain a cast? It was not all vanity and fame. It was also building up useful connections for peace. Andrew Carnegie was, besides a shrewd businessman and philanthropist, also active in the peace movement, paying (among others) for the construction of the Peace Palace. The peace movement had been active for many years and influencing public opinion was much easier than influencing politicians and the national elites. Using his casts as gifts, Andrew Carnegie came into contact with heads of state. Through these personal connections, he promoted peace and the peaceful settlement of disputes through arbitration.

Diplodocus Carnegii, Peace Diplomacy by Dinosaur

Dippy background story in the Community Gallery

This small, but I think significant, part of the Dippy exhibition and story can be found in the Community Gallery, located in the arch towards the back right of the Expression Gallery (the one with the big heads).

Kelvingrove Expression Gallery

Kelvingrove Expression Gallery

A short video summarises Carnegie’s world peace project (and others), telling how he used the dinosaur casts as a means of gaining access (for himself or his representative) to major world leaders.

Dippy Video Plaque

Dippy Video Plaque

The video only a few minutes to run, plays continuously, and is well worth taking the time to watch.

Using the offer of one of the dinosaur cast to as a route to meet world leaders and discuss world peace only failed in one instance, when Tsar Nicholas ll of Russia accepted the cast, but declined the meeting and discussion.

The display case on the right contains a few related artefacts from the time.

Kelvingrove Community Gallery

Kelvingrove Community Gallery

There’s an original photo in the case, which shows that (the real) Dippy did not stand alone in the Carnegie Museum, but had a lady friend for company, Louisae.

Dippy and Louisae

Dippy and Louisae


Dippy and Louisae plaque

Dippy and Louisae plaque

If you take a look at the other items in the case, you’ll find a sketch showing Dippy standing beside a tall building, on his hind legs, to give people an idea just how long he was.


03/04/2019 - Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , ,

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