For nearly a century the Museum of Isle of Wight Geology, above Sandown Library, housed the Island's geology and fossil collections. On August 10th 2001 this changed with the opening of Dinosaur Isle, a purpose built interactive museum which replaced the old museum. Dinosaur Isle provides the space and facilities to properly display and conserve the rich geological collections. Dinosaur Isle is managed by the Isle of Wight Council and cost £2.7 million, half of which was provided by a Millennium Commission grant. The new museum is located on Culver Parade, a short distance from the old building, and was designed by local architects Rainey Petrie Johns in the shape of a giant pterodactyl. The interior was designed by Leicester based Haley Sharpe Design, who employed an array of sub-contractors to make everything from showcases to rock re-constructions to full sized fleshed dinosaurs!
The new museum displays over 1000 of the best fossils from the collections, and the dedicated museum staff and volunteers have spent much time preparing the specimens for the new displays. An introductory exhibition gallery covers the geology and fossils of the Island in a walk back through time, taking the visitor from the Ice Age of the recent past, back to the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs lived. This leads to the large dinosaur gallery, which has exciting displays including real fossils, skeletal re-constructions, life sized fleshed re-constructions and two animatronic dinosaurs. The picture is of the original staff in 2001, shortly after we opened to the public.
Dinosaur Isle is an all-year-round facility, combining entertainment, education and enjoyment. Displays use clever lighting, artwork, sound, smells and animatronic technology to create an exciting experience. As well as the displays, there is a working laboratory on view, and a room set aside for learning sessions. Full disabled access is available, and the facility has a large shop. Browns cafeteria is immediately next door to the site. We are located next to the sandy beach at Sandown, within a short distance of the excellent geological exposures at Yaverland.
Our aim is to increase public awareness of the international importance of the Isle of Wight's diverse geology and palaeontology. The Museum's Community Learning service welcomes about 250 school and other groups each year. Pupils from Island schools and those who visit the Island are our ambassadors for the future protection of the Island's rich natural heritage. In addition we provide an annual programme of field trips to our local beaches to look for fossils and examine our internationally recognized geology. We provide a number of these field trips during the school holidays. Outreach to schools is also provided; and where possible we are able to provide staff for off-site lectures and presentations. We work with other providers of environmental education on the Isle of Wight to show how the Island's ecology has changed over time.
In addition to our visitor and learning provision staff provide a number of other community services. The Curatorial staff provide an identification service for Isle of Wight fossils, and provide a resource for the Planning Department where changes may affect important geological exposures; this service is backed by specialist knowledge, maintained by a continuing interest in the Island's geological heritage. Dinosaur Isle works in partnership with other organizations to promote the conservation of the Island's rich geological and palaeontological diversity. This includes English Nature (Natural England), the National Trust, Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty unit, I.W. Council Countryside Section and the Coastal Management Team.
A representative set of pictures of some of our displays.
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