A Culture24 top ten of the best dinosaur museums and collections in the UK

| 01 August 2013

Here's a handy guide to the best dinosaur museums and collections in the UK...

a photo of a little boy with a lifesize dinosaur model
Getting up close to some of Scarborough's former inhabitants at The Rotunda, just one of the dino locations in our summer top ten© Scarborough Museum Trust

Natural History Museum Dinosaur Gallery, London

This is the daddy - from the Diplodocus skeleton in the entranceway to the terrifying animatronic T-Rex in the dinosaur gallery, the NHM is packed full of facts figures, fossils, reconstructions and interactives that engagingly explore and impart our ever-developing knowledge of dinosaurs. The only drawback is the summer queue - but you can jump to the front by reserving a ticket online.

The Rotunda, The William Smith Museum of Geology, Scarborough

Scarborough’s bastion of geology is a must-visit for anyone wanting to understand the dino-history of Yorkshire. The Dinosaur Coast Gallery offers a bright, colourful and resolutely family-friendly experience which explores the coastline and its treasures. This year’s exhibition, Scarborough’s Lost Dinosaurs, ponders the many reptile footprints found in the region and the fascinating beasts that once called Scarborough home.

Manchester Museum, Manchester

Stan the Tyrannosaurus Rex is the towering centrepiece to this impressive palaeontology collection of more than 100,000 fossils ranging from algae from the dawn of life billions of years ago to ferns, mammoths and dinosaurs.  An engaging place to visit to gain an understanding of how our planet has changed over millions of years.

New Walk Museum, Leicester

Apart from the impressive Rutland Dinosaur, which quite rightly takes centre stage at the New Walk’s famous dinosaur gallery, the Leicester museum is home to some of the oldest fossils in the world. The bright, two-roomed gallery also includes dinosaur interactives, hands-on activities and cutting edge reconstructions of marine reptiles.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Amid the many wonders in this something-for-everyone museum is the Creatures of the Past gallery, which puts the dinosaurs that once roamed Scotland into context. As well as lots of fossils to pore over there’s a well-preserved 2.6 metre skeleton of Stenopterygius, an Ichthyosaur from Holzmaden, Germany and many other reptile fossils including crocodilian remains and an almost complete shell of a Jurassic turtle.

World Museum, Liverpool

Lifesize casts of famous dinosaurs including a Megalosaurus and Allosaurus await visitors to the Dinosaur Gallery of the World Museum in Liverpool. There's also a range of fossils including a raptor egg, dinsouar poo and bones - and the occasional visit from a young T-Rex.

Centre for Life, Newcastle

This summer the Centre for Life is a must-visit for dinosaur hunting families as the Natural History Museum’s animatronic dinosaur exhibition takes up residence. There are Jurassic forests and Cretaceous deserts and some weird, wonderful and now extinct plants and dinosaurs like Tarbosaurus, the scary cousin of T.Rex. Afterwards pop over to The Great North Hancock for an ogle at their T-Rex skeleton.

Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Cambridge
Encompassing more than 500 million years of Earth's history, The Sedgwick is responsible for around 1.5 million fossil, rock and mineral specimens from around the world. Amid this impressive haul is a complete Iguanodon skeleton - one of many skeletons and life-size models ranging from a Megalosaurus skull to a skeleton and life-sized model of a tiny Compsognathus.

Dinosaur Isle, Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is one of the richest dinosaur locations in Europe, with more than 20 species from the Cretacious period found on the island. Dinosaur Isle is a fitting place to celebrate this legacy, with reconstructions of five local dinos; Neovenator, Eotyrannus, Iguanadon, Hypsilophodon and the giant Sauropod. There are also fascinating fossils and absorbing insights into the Cretaceous period. The fossil walks are very popular too.

The Jurassic Coast, Dorset and east Devon

The Jurassic Coastline of fossil-rich beaches, stretching across Dorset and into East Devon, is our very own World heritage Site. There are several visitor centres and museums where you can find out more. But here are our three of the best…

Dorset County Museum opened its Jurassic Coast Gallery in 2006 as a state-of-the-art focal point for visitors to the area. Billed as a 185-million-year "walk through time", pride of place goes to the Weymouth Bay Pliosaur (“the world's biggest bite”) as the Gallery charts the full 95 miles of coastline from Exmouth in Devon to Old Harry Rocks in Dorset.

While you’re in Dorchester, The Dinosaur Museum is another good place – certainly for younger visitors – with its exciting blend of actual fossils, skeletons and life-size dinosaur reconstructions. There are lots of hands-on and multimedia displays too.

The charming Lyme Regis Museum celebrates the pioneering fossil hunter and palaeontologist Mary Anning, who discovered the Ichthyosaur on the local beaches in 1811.

There are lots of fossils to inspect, but while you’re here enquire about the famous fossil beach tours, which head out onto the local beach to find your own Jurassic coast fossil. And don’t forget the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival each May.

Want more top tens? Try these:

Top ten toy collections

Top ten heritage steam railway tips

Top ten mazes
Top ten open air museums
Art galleries at seaside resorts


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