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  1. ITV Report

Dippy the Diplodocus' UK tour venues released

Dippy the Diplodocus will leave the Natural History Museum, London, in January 2017. Credit: PA

Dippy the Diplodocus will visit eight museums and galleries when it embarks on a two-year UK tour in early 2018.

The reconstructed dinosaur will leave its starring role at the Natural History Museum in London next year, when he will be replaced with the real skeleton of a blue whale.

Dippy will begin his tour at Dorset County Museum - a gallery famed for its dedication to Britain's fossil-rich Jurassic Coast - from February to May 2018. The tour will then take in:

  • Birmingham Museum from mid-2018
  • Ulster Museum from September 2018
  • Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, from January to May 2019
  • Great North Museum, Newcastle, from May to October 2019
  • The National Assembly of Wales is next on the list
  • Number One Riverside, Rochdale, will host Dippy from February to June 2020
  • Norwich Cathedral from July to October in 2020

The venues were chosen from an application of 90, when plans for the tour was announced last year.

A conservator inspects Dippy the diplodocus. Credit: PA

The 70ft paster-cast sauropod replica has dominated the entrance to London's Natural History Museum since it was introduced in 1979.

He became an instantly recognisable figure, standing just inside the main visitor's entrance in the vast Hintze hall.

The decision to retire Dippy caused a social media backlash, with the launch of a Twitter campaign under the hashtag #SaveDippy.

Over 32,000 people signed an online petition calling for the museum to change its mind.

Dippy the Diplodocus is 26-meters long. Credit: PA

Natural History Museum director Sir Michael Dixon said: "We wanted Dippy to visit unusual locations so he can draw in people that may not traditionally visit a museum.

"Making iconic items accessible to as many people as possible is at the heart of what museums give to the nation, so we have ensured that Dippy will still be free to view at all tour venues."

Dippy's last day in London will be on January 4, 2017, before conservationists spend 12 months preparing for its UK tour - which will last until late 2020.

He will spend four to six months in each location because he will have to be taken apart and reconstructed at every stop on the tour.

It is expected 1.5 million people will see him.