There are good and bad in both the old and the new. Many things new are advantageous and many things old are worth preserving, yet Britain, America and most of the lands of the world are currently cursed by people who think all change is good, who always promote new ways over old ones and who seek to destroy each and every tradition and taboo. This is nothing sort of a disease of irrationality, one if the most ironic symptoms of this disease is that sufferers believe that only those people infected with this disease are rational and that all other people are “irrational and sentimental fools”.
Against the wishes of the public the Museum of Natural History in London is planning to replace the well loved 117 year old diplodocus skeleton reproduction (popularly known as Dippy) with a sad and boring skeleton of a blue whale who was murdered back in the days when the British were still happy with the idea of slaughtering these intelligent, beautiful, giants of the sea.
Dippy, who is the icon of the museum, is a plaster of Paris hero who has featured in well loved films from ‘One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing‘ to the more recent “Paddington“ and has been at the heart of many children’s visits to the museum since he was placed near the main entrance in 1938.
So why would they do such an unpopular and self destructive thing?
Well they say that by casting Dippy into the wilderness and replacing him with the the bones of this poor old whale they can better convey the “cutting-edge science“ that goes on at the museum. I must be missing something because I can only see the most tenuous connection here. In fact its nonsense – diplodocus or whale, both can be equally relevant to cutting edge science.
Trying a different tack for the justification of something that is probably just a whim, Museum director Sir Michael Dixon eloquently has said “The very resources on which modern society relies are under threat. Species and ecosystems are being destroyed faster than we can describe them or even understand their significance.” which is all noble and true.
He has also said “The blue whale serves as a poignant reminder that while abundance is no guarantee of survival, through our choices, we can make a real difference. There is hope.”…
OK fair enough, but how do we get from here to “I know lets the bones of a victim of whaling on the ceiling to brighten the entrance hall up?”
…and why do we also hear the totally different spin of needing to get rid of popular and well loved Dippy because he doesn’t reflect the fact that we are hip, cool and “cutting edge?”
Dippy is an old friend to many millions of visitors to the Natural History Museum. Although a reproduction, he is an exhibit who has helped millions of visitors get a good idea of the amazing proportions of a diplodocus. He is more aesthetic by far than a whale carcass or other alternative dinosaurs. In many people’s mind’s Dippy is the symbol of the Natural History Museum. In his many roles (including symbol, decoration, exhibit, fascinator of children etc) he is much better than all but a few possible challengers and he is certainly much better than alien looking whale bones. If its not broken don’t fix it, and Dippy is certainly not broken – he does his job just fine.