The Geological Collections displayed at Dinosaur Isle have evolved from collections made by 19th century naturalists.The Isle of Wight Philosophical Society founded a museum in Newport in 1819 and over the next fifty years the collection grew in size with local historical, archaeological and geological objects gradually being added.
In 1913 the Society’s geological specimens were transferred to Sandown Free Library, and were arranged to form a museum in one of the rooms of the upper floor. It opened to the public in 1923, becoming known as the Museum of Isle of Wight Geology.Although responsibility for the collection transferred to Sandown and Shanklin Urban District Council, it was curated by the Isle of Wight Natural History Society up to 1942. From the late 1940s until 1974 the Borough Council employed a succession of honorary custodians. At various times the collection was added to by material from redundant museums at Ventnor and Ryde. In 1974 the Geology Collections came into the care of the Isle of Wight County Council (now the Isle of Wight Council), who have ever since appointed full time curators to care for them.
The Museum of Isle of Wight Geology relocated its collections for display to the new Dinosaur Isle museum in 2001, finally vacating its premises above Sandown Library. The new museum opened on August 10th 2001. Dinosaur Isle is a Millenium Project jointly funded by the Isle of Wight Council and the Millenium Commission.
The Collections currently consist of about 30,000 geological specimens, mainly fossils. They reflect the breadth of the Island’s geological history, ranging from Early Cretaceous to Early Oligocene and Pleistocene age. Particular strengths include Wealden (Early Cretaceous) dinosaurs, Cretaceous ammonites, Palaeogene molluscs, vertebrates, plants and insects. Most notably, the collection contains partial and near complete dinosaur skeletons, including the type of Neovenator salerii. Other type and figured material includes Cretaceous and Palaeogene molluscs and vertebrates. The collections also contain representative rock and mineral specimens from the Island. Apart from the specimens displayed in Dinosaur Isle, reserve geological collections are stored in the Island Heritage Service central store at Cothey Bottom, Ryde, and are available for study by appointment.
The mission of Dinosaur Isle is -“To be a national centre of excellence in the conservation, interpretation and acquisition of the Island’s dinosaurs and diverse geological heritage.” and its aims are:
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