A vast cast of a dinosaur skeleton donated by the Scottish tycoon Andrew Carnegie is to go on display in his home country for the first time.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow has secured a five-month loan of Dippy the Diplodocus under plans to allow it to leave its London home after more than a century.
Dippy, which will be visiting Glasgow between January and May in 2019, has been the first sight to greet millions of visitors to the Natural History Museum in London since it was relocated to its vast Hintze Hall in 1979.
The 292-bone skeleton was instigated by the steel tycoon and philanthropist after he developed a fascination with dinosaurs.
It is based on the near-complete fossilised skeleton of the dinosaur found during an 1899 expedition that Carnegie helped fund in a quarry near Sheep Creek in Wyoming in 1899.
Carnegie agreed to pay for the creation of a 70 foot long plaster-cast replica of the dinosaur after King Edward VII spotted an illustration of the Diplodocus hanging on a wall at Skibo Castle, during a visit by the monarch to Carnegie’s home in Sutherland.
The skeleton, which took around 18 months to make before it was shipped to London in 1905, will dominate the iconic “centre hall” at Kelvingrove and is expected to provide a huge boost to the current figure of 1.2 million visitors who flock there each year.
More than 90 museums and galleries applied to take Dippy on loan after its first ever tour was announced in January of last year. It will be replaced by the skeleton of a blue whale in the London museum when Dippy’s tour gets underway in January 2018.
Glasgow will be the only stop-off in Scotland on a tour lasting almost three years, which will also take in Dorset, Birmingham, Belfast, Newcastle, Cardiff, Rochdale and Norwich.
Archie Graham, chair of Glasgow Life, which runs Kelvingrove, said: “We’re already counting down the months until Dippy makes his grand appearance in our Centre Hall.
“One of our most visited spaces in the museum is the life gallery, which is home to a number of fascinating creatures from the natural history world. We are confident Dippy will feel right at home among them when he joins us at Kelvingrove in January 2019.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to engage citizens and visitors alike in the way we think about and protect our natural world.”
Sir Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said: “We wanted Dippy to visit unusual locations so he can draw in people that may not traditionally visit a museum.
“Making iconic items accessible to as many people as possible is at the heart of what museums give to the nation, so we have ensured that Dippy will still be free to view at all tour venues.
“Few museum objects are better known - surely no one object better evokes the awesome diversity of species that have lived on Earth?”