We have a set of trustees, who are responsible for financial oversight and executive governance. Trustees are:
Ellinor Michel (Chair of the Friends)
I am a taxonomist and evolutionary biologist at the Natural History Museum. My research focus is on African freshwaters, especially the species radiations in ancient lakes of the East African Rift.
I’ve always had a strong interest in the history and philosophy of science; that, combined with my commitment to making a difference to my local community, made it pretty clear that the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs would become a focus for my efforts. The ‘Dinos’ are stellar for a range of reasons – their construction heralded a major paradigm shift in the history of science, as they were the first life-sized reconstructions of extinct animals; they were ground-breaking for the history of public engagement, as the first big scale edu-tainment on natural history; and they are also just incredibly beautiful and stunningly cool as sculptures. When you walk among them you feel like you are living ‘Where the Wild Things Are’.
By preserving these Grade 1 heritage assets and building an educational engagement programme around them, we hope to convey excitement about key ideas in natural science for generations to come.
nhm.academia.edu/EllinorMichel | firstname.lastname@example.org
Erykah Brackenbury (Secretary)
I work in postgraduate medical training and sporadically as a freelance journalist. I am a huge fan of the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs and love that they are a snapshot in time and an incredible insight into the history of scientific thought.
Anthony M R Lewis
I’m a tour guide for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and English Heritage; a voiceover artist for Travel Channel and Sony; and an online documentary maker featuring on londonist.com. While producing my ‘Lost Valley of London‘ adventure series, I became utterly enamoured with the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs. To me these sculptures represent everything unexpected,mysterious and exciting about London heritage: the thrill of discovery, the wild-ride of history and the inspiration of human endeavour. I am honoured to join the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs and promote these magnificent beasts’ conservation.
Joe Sullivan (Treasurer)
I am a museum education professional, currently working at The Grant Museum of Zoology and Brooklands Museum, and serving on the board of the London Museums Group. The reason I got into museums and heritage as a career is due to a genuine love of interpreting history and the view that you need to enjoy your job otherwise you’re wasting you time – a thought process that was initially stoked age 5 by Dinosaurs.
The first time I read about the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs was in a magazine in 1991 (appropriately called ‘Dinosaurs!‘), which featured cartoons about palaeontological history, including of course the Crystal Palace sculptures. Being a Londoner myself I found their nearby locality fascinating, as well as the window it gave me into scientific interpretation in the Victorian times. Fired by that same interest for well over a decade, I later worked at several dinosaur museums and exhibitions, gained qualifications in Prehistoric Archaeology and Museum Studies, and worked my way through the sector to the point where I can now help to actively contribute to the maintenance, interpretation and public enjoyment of the sculptures.
I’m a local with a passion for all things dino-related, and the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs in particular. I’m an ultra-running enthusiast and spend half my waking hours plodding past our dinos in the park, as well as tipping my hat to their pals the sphinxes up the hill.
I first heard about the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs in The Usbourne Book of Ghosts, Monsters and Legends when I was a kid, and have been fascinated with them ever since. They’re not just utterly charming to see, but to me they represent the deep eccentricity of the British, and the have-a-go mentality of the Victorian era. Did Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and Sir Richard Owen know exactly what iguanodons and megalosaurs looked like when they came up with the statues? No, but they gave it their best shot. Their Dinosaur statues are the spirit of the scientific method – the workings left behind for everyone to see even after the problem has been found to have a different solution.
I’m a local resident with an enthusiasm for history, and for volunteering within the community. Both sets of grandparents lived in Sydenham and Penge so the dinosaurs have been a part of my life since birth.
I am keen to help the charity expand upon the ways in which we can bring greater understanding of the historical significance of the Dinosaurs to a wider audience. I want to convey excitement about the statues in a way that inspires others to investigate for themselves.
One of my favourite things about the Dinosaurs is imagining the impact they must have had upon a society that had not yet been exposed to any notion that such creatures had existed. Richard Owen (the man who gave us the name dinosaur) realised the sculptures were a way to bring scientific knowledge to the masses. I like to think of an unsuspecting member of the public, going for a wander in the park and finding pre-historic beasts lurking in the trees!
The fact that the Dinosaurs are anatomically incorrect makes them all the more charming, and highlights the speed at which scientific development moves.
I am utterly thrilled to be a part of this important charity, and I wholeheartedly accept the challenge of assisting to preserve and promote the distinguished, delightful, divine Dinosaurs!
I am a palaeontologist working at University College London, although the fossils I study, coccoliths, are rather too small to end up as sculptures in the park. I have strong interest in history of geology and of London. The Crystal Palace sculptures are a wonderful piece of that heritage, I’ve and it is good to be able to help ensure their future. In addition to my palaeontological background I have experience as a trustee of other charities, including the Camphill Village Trust and I am leading a substantial project, Mikrotax, which is putting data on microfossils on the web.
I’m a university professor with expertise in the history of evolutionary biology and palaeontology. This includes Darwin and Darwinism. I’m fascinated with the period 1800-1850, when British geologists led the world in thinking about “deep time” – the idea that Earth has a long history, and fossils are bits from previous chapters in that history. This takes history far beyond science, into questions about the meaning and purpose of life on Earth. Indeed, the statues in Crystal Palace Park spoke to those questions as much as they illustrated some of the most exciting new discoveries of science in their day.
I’m a passionate advocate for the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs. In my day job, I’m Professor of History and Philosophy of Biology at University College London and Head of Department for UCL’s Department of Science and Technology Studies.
I was a Crystal Palace local. The park and its cultural heritage are close to my heart. I’m delighted to do my bit to help conserve them and to promote thinking about the questions they raise.
www.ucl.ac.uk/sts/cain | J.Cain@ucl.ac.uk
Past board members and trustees
I am an objects conservator experienced with hands-on conservation of inorganic materials, conservation methodology and material science. I am looking forward to helping with their preservation, which should make for an interesting challenge! Living just round the corner from the dinosaurs I see them almost daily, yet cannot imagine ever tiring of them.
I have previously worked at the Natural History Museum, the British Museum and the Imperial War Museum and am currently a preventive conservator at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. From 2010 to 2012 I was on the committee of the Institute of Conservation’s Ceramics and Glass Conservation Group and since 2009 I have given two annual lectures to conservation students at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. I have also been lucky to work as an excavation conservator in Tell Brak, Syria with the McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge.
Lois (Trilobite) Olmstead
I am Communications and Web Coordinator for Autograph ABP.
I joined Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs because I want to make sure that our local community assets are properly looked after. I was also Chair of the Friends of Crystal Palace Subway, a related heritage project in Crystal Palace Park, and CEO of EngagedX, a company developing market infrastructure to unlock more socially motivated investment.
I am the curator of the Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL and I have had a lifelong interest in palaeobiology and evolution. You can’t tell the history of evolution, science communication and palaeontology without the story of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs. In fact, you could argue that none of these disciplines would be as they are today were it not for the dinosaur court down at Crystal Place. Fortunately, these sculptures still exist so that the history of paleontological thought, with an emphasis on Britain’s contribution can be shown, not just taught. Because of their impressive stature and size it’s assumed that they are robust objects but at over 150 years of being on open display they need preserving and conserving as much as museum specimens. Seen today they may appear to hilarious outdated and old fashioned but these sculptures have more to tell us about the history, development and communication of science if you know where to look closely and carefully.
I am a biologist at the Natural History Museum in London where my group works on the evolution of parasitic worms through the study of their development, genomes and diversity. Although I’ve never specialised on dinosaurs, they have inspired me since childhood and were my first true fascination with the animal world outside of my immediate surroundings. Combined with an interest in the history of evolutionary thinking, a career at the NHM and a home in south London, the CP Dinosaurs are linked in some way to all parts of my life and I was delighted to join the Friends’ board in order to assist with their conservation efforts. The sculptures are a unique and important heritage asset worth preserving for future generations that provide not only a physical example of the very distant past, but also of Victorian natural science in its height of discovery. Through the Friends, I hope more people learn to appreciate the specialness of these installations and how they are linked to the Natural History Museum through its founder Richard Owen, to the British Empire through the spectacle of the Crystal Palace, and of course to palaeontology and the study of deep time.
Dinosaurs dominated my childhood reading and viewing habits – from the creatures of Conan Doyle’s Lost World and Edgar Rice Burroughs Pellucidar/At the Earth’s Core, to the Savage Land of Marvel Comic’s Ka-Za and the wonderful stop-frame animated creations of Ray Harryhausen (The Valley Of Gwangi left an indelible mark with its mind-blowing combination of jerk-motion Triceratops and live action cowboys…). They fed endlessly into my imagination and stoked my creative appetite for realising the impossible… so there’s a nice sense of completion in that my most recent art project – Ghosts of Gone Birds – set about the task of breathing life back into all the extinct bird species we have lost over the last 250 years through the imaginative power of painters, sculptors, poets and writers. Art vs. Extinction seems a fairly worthy fight to undertake. And when I’m not curating the resurrection of Laughing Owls and Red-Moustached Fruit Doves, I like to dedicate my creative energies to any other cause-related communications project that seems to challenge the usual way of the world – like staging music festivals inside book stores, opening up empty art galleries or reinventing Peanuts for the C21st.