Kate reveals her children love Natural History Museum as she unveils new attraction
The whale was chosen to be put at the heart of the museum as it told a “powerful story”.
The Duchess of Cambridge has unveiled the Natural History Museum’s replacement for the long-loved Dippy the Diplodocus – a vast blue whale skeleton called Hope – and revealed a little insight into royal life.
She said her children love the museum “and not just for the dinosaurs” as she unveiled the 25.2 metre-long whale skeleton, which is suspended from the ceiling and appears to be diving above the newly reopened hall.
Kate, who is a patron of the museum, wore a pale blue dress from designer Preen to the opening of the revamped Hintze Hall.
In a rare speech at the opening, the Duchess said she had loved visiting the museum as a child.
“I am experiencing the joy all over again with my own children, who adore coming here, and it is not just to see the T-Rex mind you,” she said of the museum which is less than a mile from Kensington Palace.
Kate drew on her experience of scuba diving, saying she has “come to care deeply about life under our waters and the conservation of our oceans”.
She said she hoped the new exhibit could do the same for visitors, and “encourage us all to think about and to care for our marine life”.
Sir David Attenborough told the audience he first walked into the Natural History Museum more than 80 years ago, when he was just 10.
He added that he had seen Dippy the Diplodocus on that visit.
“I was hugely impressed by its size but I was disappointed to discover it wasn’t the real thing,” he said.
Dippy is famously only a fossil cast rather than genuine dinosaur bones.
“The glory of this museum is you are surrounded by the real thing,” Sir David said.
Sir Michael Dixon, director of the museum, said the whale told a “powerful story” which is why they had chosen to put her at the heart of the museum.
“Hanging a whale from the roof of a Grade I listed building was no easy feat,” he said, as he thanked those who had worked to get the 221 bones of the largest animal to ever live above the heads of the audience.
Dippy has been replaced with Hope the whale to remind visitors that species on the edge of extinction can be saved.
This particular whale became part of the Natural History Museum’s collection after beaching herself in Wexford Harbour, Ireland, in 1891, just 10 years after the museum opened.
The museum bought her for £250, before the bones first went on display in 1938 at the opening of the mammals hall.
Hope is now centre stage in Hintze Hall, along with 10 other “wonder bay” exhibits that represent the history of the Earth.
These include giraffes, a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite, and one of the most complete dinosaur fossils ever discovered in the UK – a Mantellisaurus.
Hintze Hall reopens to the public on Friday.