Everyone loves the Dinosaurs!
Press release – release 11 November 2015
The iconic Crystal Palace Dinosaurs are getting a specialist repair work to halt their recent perilous decline in condition. Specialist stone conservators have begun working on the famous ‘standing Iguanodon’, one of 31 sculptures that form the atmospheric assemblage of the first-ever life-sized reconstructions of extinct animals. The sculptures are central in the history of British science, educational engagement and social change, and are recognised with a Grade 1 Heritage listing, putting them on par with other British treasures such as Stonehenge.
The standing Iguanodon has been a symbol of British influence in science since the ‘Dinosaur Court’ opened in 1854 to huge acclaim from the public and with encouragement and visits from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Although the sculptures are not considered accurate by today’s understanding of dinosaur biology, they tell the story of how science is built on the best evidence available at the time, and how it improves as more evidence becomes available. They are the birthplace of ‘Dinomania’ and are famous worldwide. They are also a hugely engaging mixture of being rather scary and a bit hilarious at the same time, making them the key attraction of Crystal Palace Park. Everyone loves the Dinosaurs!
Three years ago Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs (FCPD), a volunteer group, noticed that the sculptures were suffering serious problems, with tails, toes and teeth falling off, and huge cracks appearing in the bodies of several sculptures. The damage is not immediately obvious from the normal viewing area, but up close, it is extensive and clear that repairs are urgently needed. Working with extensive support from the owners of Crystal Palace Park, Bromley Council, and with input from Historic England, FCPD devised a plan for conserving the sculptures and simultaneously increasing the appreciation of the site for everyone. When more people understand their importance, and realize how amazing the CP Dinosaurs are, it will be easier to keep the necessary maintenance high on the agenda and they won’t fall apart as fast.
The initial work will take about six weeks and will bring the standing iguanodon back into robust shape. A blogsite, tour day and film will lift the veil on conservation work, allowing the public to follow the repairs as they proceed. Current works are funded by London Borough of Bromley and the Mayor of London as part of a series of improvements to Crystal Palace Park that total £2.4 million. £400,000 will be spent on interpretation, landscapes and repairs to several of the Dinosaur sculptures. Future fundraising aims to raise £800,000 to repair the remaining sculptures.
Location – in the southern, Penge and Anerley side of Crystal Palace Park, postcode SE20 8DP, http://cpdinosaurs.org/visitthedinosaurs
Conservation blog – to be updated as works proceed
Two short films:
The Lost Valley of London (a funny 4.5 min intro, but historically spot on) (here)
The Seven Deadly Agents of Destruction (an entertaining 7 min film noire/pulp-style animation on conservation threats to the CPDs, and to all outdoor heritage) (here)
LBB information on CP Park improvement plans:
Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For editors – further information contact:
Dr Ellinor Michel, Chair, FCPD – email@example.com, tel: 0750-607-1547
London Borough of Bromley
Andrew Rogers, Communications Executive, on 020 8461 7670 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on works
The work is being done by a specialist heritage conservation company, Clivedon, overseen by Morton, Co.
Fig. 1 The iconic ‘symbol of science’, the standing iguanodon, first life-sized reconstruction of an extinct animal, built in 1854 in Crystal Palace Park. Major repair work is beginning to bring this Grade 1 heritage sculpture back to stable condition.
Fig. 2 A crack is visible in the body wall of the Crystal Palace standing iguanodon, while work begins on stabilising foundations.
Fig. 3 Crystal Palace iguanodon teeth being worked on by a specialist conservator, a ‘Dinosaur Doctor’.
Fig. 4 The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs – the two famous iguanodon sculptures and a Hylaeosaur.
Fig. 5 A classic view of The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, looking from the sculptures of animals found deeper in geologic time towards the younger dinosaurs. The iconic ‘symbol of science’, the standing iguanodon, is at the back.