Dippy, the world famous dinosaur cast from the Natural History Museum, is set to welcome visitors in Rochdale once again as its national tour resumes on Monday, 7 September 2020.
Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure, opened in Rochdale, its only North West stop, in February this year. The exhibit proved a star attraction, with almost 115,000 visitors coming to see the dinosaur cast in Number One Riverside and the accompanying exhibition at Touchstones Rochdale, before the tour was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dippy's stay in Rochdale was originally due to end on 28 June 2020, but visitors will now be able to see the famous dinosaur cast at Number One Riverside and experience the Dippy exhibition at Touchstones Rochdale until Saturday, 12 December 2020.
The extended run has been arranged to allow people plenty of time to meet Dippy safely, before he moves on to his final stop, Norwich Cathedral.
Dippy on Tour is being brought to Number One Riverside, Rochdale and visitors across the UK by the Natural History Museum in partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation, and supported by Dell EMC and Williams & Hill.
A number of additional measures have been put in place at both venues to keep visitors safe. Cleaning will be significantly increased and numbers will be restricted to allow people to maintain a safe distance inside. Hand sanitisers will be available throughout the venues and hands on parts of the exhibitions, including the sensory room and dino discovery lab, have been removed. Visitors can drop in and see Dippy at Number One Riverside, but the Dippy Exhibition at Touchstones Rochdale will need to be booked in advance.
Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "We're delighted to be able to welcome visitors once again and connect audiences across the region with this incredible piece of natural history.
"We've made some changes to the exhibition to keep everybody safe, and both Number One Riverside and Touchstones Rochdale have been awarded the 'We're Good to Go' COVID-19 industry standard and consumer mark by Visit Britain. The fact that the Dippy Experience will be with us until December also gives people plenty to time to see him, so we can support social distancing and keep everybody safe. People absolutely don't need to come at once.
"To help keep people safe, we're also asking visitors to only attend with members of their own household, as per government guidelines currently covering most of Greater Manchester, and for visitors to follow government guidance on face coverings."
Just down the road at Touchstones Museum and Art Gallery, the accompanying Dippy Exhibition is also set to reopen. But visitors have an extra surprise in store with a narrated guided tour taking place on certain days. Throughout the tour, visitors will be guided by a team of 'scientists' who have travelled back in time to gather information about the past with the help of the audience.
They will learn about the dinosaurs, what Rochdale was like 240 million years ago and about the environment today, so they can go back to the future, having found the world's missing knowledge, to create a better planet for everybody.
Darren Grice, Deputy Chief Executive of Link4Life, the charity behind the cultural venue, said: "We're really excited to welcome the public back to Touchstones Rochdale and the totally re-imagined Dippy Exhibition, which is now led by time travelling scientists. Thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Emergency Fund, families can visit for free but to help us manage numbers and keep everyone safe, tickets for the Dippy Exhibition need to be pre-booked online."
Opening hours for meeting Dippy at Number One Riverside will be:
- Monday - Friday: - 9am-5pm
- Saturdays: 9.30am-5pm
Opening hours for the Dippy Exhibition at Touchstones Rochdale will be:
- Monday - Saturday: 9.30am-4.30pm
The Dippy shop, located at Number One Riverside, will be open from 10.30am-4.30pm from Tuesday - Friday and from 10.30am-4pm on Saturdays. Toilets and baby changing facilities are available at both sites.
Freya Stannard, Head of National Programmes at The Natural History Museum, said: "We are thrilled that Dippy on Tour is now able to welcome back visitors. We have worked with Rochdale to implement new measures and extend the exhibition to allow plenty of time for people to visit when they feel confident in doing so.
"We look forward to Dippy doing what he does best once again, inspiring people and encouraging a love for the natural world that we hope people will carry with them long after their visit."
Customer services will also reopen at Number One Riverside on Monday, 7 September 2020, but there will be limited access and customers will use a separate entrance. The customer services section of the ground floor has been separated from the Dippy exhibition area to help keep visitors and customers safe.
Libraries, including the one at Number One Riverside, will remain closed for the time being to reduce the risk of infection through handling books and using public computers, but a dedicated request and collect service has been launched to enable people to order books and pick up from selected libraries.
Philippa Charles, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: "We are delighted that Dippy is now able to resume his adventure in Rochdale and get back to his mission to inspire people to explore the nature on their doorstep. Dippy's purpose has never been more important and we are so pleased that Number One Riverside is enabling people to visit Dippy safely."