Dinosaur Isle - Discover Experience Encounter
Queues at Opening day - August 10th 2001

About Dinosaur Isle

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!

About us

The original Dinosaur Isle team

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, viewed from the airDinosaur 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.

Community Learning service

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.

Other services we provide

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.

Gallery tour

A representative set of pictures of some of our displays.


This is a reconstruction of the skeleton of Megalosaurus, the first dinosaur to be described scientifically, and the first theropod.

Megalosaurus was discovered in 1819, and named in 1824 by William Buckland.
Megalosarus - skeletal reconstruction

Large crocodiles hunted in the Wealden rivers not far from Dinosaur Isle. This specimen of Goniopholis was found by Nick Chase and given the accession number IWCMS 2001.446. The skull, some of the ribs, teeth and scutes (the armoured plates on its back and underside) are now on display. The picture shows our first Assistant Curator Dan Pemberton and Lorna Steel determining the positions of the scutes for display prior to going into the case.
Dan and Lorna preparing the crocodile for display
Polacanthus foxii

This life sized reconstruction of Polacanthus arrived about a year after we first opened.

It is stood on a landscape that represents what we think Sandown looked like about 123 million years ago.

Polacanthus foxii is named after the Reverend William Fox who lived and worked at Brighstone on the Isle of Wight.
fleshed Polacanthus reconstruction

Overseas language guides

Click on the logo to download a brief guide to Dinosaur Isle in French. The file format is acrobat pdf.pdf
Click on the logo to download a brief guide to Dinosaur Isle in German. The file format is acrobat pdf.pdf
Click on the logo to download a brief guide to Dinosaur Isle in Italian. The file format is acrobat pdf.pdf


Dinosaur Isle blinking eye About Dinosaur IsleMeet the TeamHow to get hereNature & Dinosaur Isle

Millenium Commission

Accredited Museum

Quality Assured Visitor Attraction

Chamber of Commerce

Isle of Wight Council

Dinosaur Isle,
Culver Parade,
Isle of Wight
PO36 8QA

Tel: +44 (0)1983 404344
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