@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • scissors
    July 16th, 2017mardixonCulture

    On July 14th Natural History Museum in London re-opened Hintze Hall after a temporary closure for 6 months. The closure was not one that came without comments and controversy – it was to remove the beloved Dippy Dinosaur to replace it with the Blue Whale.


    People absolutely adore Dippy – they have fond memories of walking into Hintze Hall for the fist time (of many) and seeing the beautiful and cheeky Dippy the Dinosaur. He has been there since 1979 (before he was Reptile Gallery now Human Biology). To clarify – Dippy has NOT always been in the hall (ask that generation that remembers the elephants…)

    Now I absolutely Love Dippy. I even was involved with the ‘I Love Dippy’ campaign NHM put on a few years ago (seriously). I have supported the idea of Hintze Hall changing even though a part of me was nervous. However, trusting the people who run the museums was easier as they were transparent. Plans were available for public, discussions were public.

    Blue Whale Vs Dippy

    First of all, if you haven’t noticed, I was #TeamWhale since the first announcement althoughmy love of Dippy meant most assumed I was #TeamDippy. Let me explain why:

    Natural History Museum is my favorite museum in the world. Honestly.  And I’ve been to a lot internationally.  It’s never been about the collection and I’ve always been honest to them about it. My love has always been about how I felt seeing the building then experiencing it. The building has an amazing energy, the collection is almost a bonus!

    The museum has a very confusing personality: It’s a family museum, it’s a natural history museum, it’s a geography museum, it’s a dinosaur museum, and of course it’s a research museum.

    That last one is the most important: Natural History Museum is about research and conservation. FIRST. While public facing means they have to be for all, they truly have had an original mission they have with conservation.

    This is why the Blue Whale in the new Hintze Hall made complete sense. Hope, as the Blue Whale displayed is now called, was a Blue Whale beached in Wexford Harbour Ireland in 1891 (ten years after NHM opened). It was purchased by the museum and put on display in 1934 in the Mammal Hall. The Blue Whale is the first species humans globally decided to conserve. It took until 1966 for the decision to be made but by then NHM and others have already started the research.

    Dippy is about an extinct reptiles (the past) while Hope is about conservation (the future) Also need to point out that Dippy was a plaster cast replica – it never actually existed! The Blue Whale has.  And this is what NHM future is about. Yes we need to remember and respect the past but we also need to look to the future for lessons.

    Opening of Hintze Hall

    Being at the opening on the new Hintze Hall is a memory I will never forget. Being one of the first to see the spectacular Hope along with the new displays around both the first and second floor was emotional if I’m honest.

    After seeing Hope hung stunningly along the rafters, please ensure you have a look around the bays along the sides. They are broken up into two sections (following along with the building – Western side conservation and Eastern side Extinction):

    Easter Wonder Bays with American mastodon, Mantellisaurus, Fossil trees, Banded iron formation, and a Imilac meteorite

    Western Wonder Bays with Giraffes, Turbinaris coral, blue marlin, seaweeds and insects.

    ‘Putting our blue whale, Hope, at the centre of the Museum, between living species on the West and extinct species on the East, is a powerful reminder of the fragility of life and the responsibility we have towards our planet. ” Sir Michael Dixon

    I was fortunate to have a one to one chat with Sir Michael Dixon, Director of Natural History Museum. While we stood up on the second floor looking down on the new hall, he explained some of the challenges outside the Team Whale vs Team Dippy (which he didn’t know it was named that and found it humorous). We talked about the conflict of the museums personality, how much thought has gone into the new design and why it matters.

    For the new design, on the second floor they have very large display cabinet with collections that reach way about what any normal eye line would be. Sir Dixon explained this was so people on the first floor will look up and explore upstairs, something they have struggled with the public during before. Also there are several items which are being displayed in a way never attempted before (the Seaweed and Blue Marlin were examples provided).

    Natural History Museum is always worth a trip but no more than ever you should ensure it is on your list of museums to visit. Also a reminder that NHM is right next to the wonderful Science Museum and V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum).

    For those who still want Dippy back, please go see him while he tours around the Uk!

    Each partner will use Dippy’s visit to showcase their local nature and natural history collections, building partnerships between regional cultural, scientific and wildlife organisations. For more details, see their website.

    And do let me know if you can see Hope or Dippy on Tour!  Would love to know your thoughts!


    360˚ video of the new #HintzeHall

    Enjoy a 360˚ look at Hope the #BlueWhale and the new #HintzeHall during today's exclusive preview for the winner of our Hintze Hall free prize draw, and the runners-up. We had nearly 17,000 entries to the draw and the lucky winner was Laura Willis. We hope she and her guests, and the runners-up all enjoyed the morning before we opened to the public for the day.

    Posted by Natural History Museum, London on Friday, 14 July 2017


    Tags: , , , , , ,
  • scissors
    April 26th, 2012mardixonCulture, Personal

    On Friday April 20th, Charlotte and three of her school friends travelled to London to sleep at the Natural History Museum’s DinoSnore as part of Charlotte’s 10th birthday (sponsored by KinderHotels).  We were entertained from the moment the doors opened until lights went out at midnight then from breakfast until the museum opened.  The fun (and learning!) never stopped.  There was about 150-200 children and occupying adults. Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , ,
  • scissors
    January 24th, 2012mardixonCulture

    For the first time real artefacts used by Scott and his team, with rare scientific specimens collected on their expedition are brought together. By combining the historical, scientific and polar expertise of the partners, this exhibition is able to go beyond the familiar tales of the journey to the Pole and the death of the polar party to explore the Terra Nova expedition from every angle.


    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , ,
  • scissors
    December 30th, 2011mardixonCulture

    My family went to Oxford to visit Pitt Rivers Museums and Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  While there, and as it was so close, we also went to Britain’s First Museum Ashmolean Museum (next blog).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , ,
  • scissors
    November 20th, 2011mardixonCulture, Literacy, Personal

    Charlotte and I had a fun filled weekend in London.

    After a lovely journey on Virgin Trains, we headed over to Bloomsbury Thistle Hotel.  The last time we went to London we were a little disappointed in this hotel as the elevator and key lock stopped working.  This time, they more than made up for it!  The room was large, with all the amenities you expect and then some.

    We barely put our bags in the gorgeous room before heading back out as we were meeting Laura Porter from GoLondon.about.com and her daughter A at the Science Museum to see the Hidden Heroes exhibition. The exhibition explores everyday items that we use almost everyday and invites you to think of where you’d be without them.  Most of the items (if not all) have been mentioned in Justin Pollard’s book Boffinology (which is a brilliant book).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , , , , , ,
  • scissors
    October 22nd, 2011mardixonCulture

    On Thursday, 20th of October I traveled to London for a packed Cultural-filled day which started at the Natural History Museum, moved to V&A, British Museum, Convent Garden and finally Royal Society of Artists.

    The day started with meeting Laura Porter, London Travel Guide (@AboutLondon) and very good friend who I was taking as a guest to the Natural History Museums Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year preview event. Simon Quicke (@Insidebooks) met us at the event.

    The exhibition is the top selection of International wildlife photographers from amateurs to professional.  The preview gave us an opportunity to see all the fabulous photographs before it opened to the public, and also discuss the works with some of the photographers.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , , , ,
  • scissors
    August 29th, 2011mardixonCulture

    Anyone who knows me, knows my passion and love for the Natural History Museum.  Through the power of social media, I’ve been able to build my relationship with the internationally renowned museum.

    I had arranged to interview Ian as Charlotte and I were in London to attend our first proms together.  Ian was kind enough to make time with short notice.

    How long have you been Manager?
    Five years, but been at the museum for 14 years

    What is your biggest achievement?
    It may seem strange, but putting the accessibility toilets and baby changing facility in (located by Exhibition Road).  It was 2004 and the Disability was passed and although we met the guidelines, I wanted to do more.

    What is your proudest moment?
    The Launch of the Darwin Centre in September 2005.  Seeing all the different elements of Natural History Museum come together – visitor services, tours, presenting, etc.

    What is the vision for the future?
    Our focus for the next 2-3 years is to increase visitor focus within our organization.

    How many visitors did you have last year?
    4.2 million and another 120,000 that visiting Tring.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , ,
  • scissors
    July 21st, 2011mardixonCulture

    About a week ago, Natural History Museum (London) emailed to let me know they were going to be asking people on Twitter to come to the museum for a ‘special’ mission.

    Immediately intrigued, I waited for more information.  I didn’t have long as I soon found out they were asking people who love the museum to come in on July 20th to be filmed.  But that’s all that was said.  Sadly, getting to London is not an easy task so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go but, luckily, it was offered that I could film Charlotte and I, then send it into them.

    However, when I told Michael about the event, he purchased train tickets for me to go as he knows how passionate I am about NHM.  [Charlotte is going to film a separate bit to be added.]

    Natural History MuseumSo on July 20h, I arrived in London in time to meet with the other Tweeters who responded to the Museum’s quest for volunteers.  We were given a bit more information – but not much.  On arrival, we were taken to the gorgeous CentralHall, where a camera crew were set up near Dippy the Diplodocus (@NHM_Dippy).  We were asked to make a sign (which I spent *way* too much time on creating..) then each of us were filmed saying why we loved Dippy and our memories of the museum.  I babbled on and actually had to say it all again as my enthusiasm was a bit hurried for them.  If allowed, I probably could have spoken for an hour on my love of the museum.  I did mention something about wanting to marry it if allowed.


    When we were done, I still had another hour or so to look around before the museum closed.  I immediately headed over to the Attenborough Studios and watched two very brilliant films.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: ,