Great North Museum's Tyrannosaurus Rex gets a big clean

Museum worker Jo Anderson has been giving the skeleton of a T-Rex dinosaur a spring clean at the Great North Museum: Hancock

 

A dust up with a dinosaur was all in a day’s work yesterday for Tyneside’s Jo Anderson.

Jo was handed the task of cleaning the life-size T. Rex replica skeleton at the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle.

The T-Rex was the first exhibit to be installed in the Great North Museum prior to its opening in May, 2009.

A pit had to be dug in the museum’s Fossils Stories gallery to accommodate the 4.9 metre tall and 11.2 metre long dinosaur.

Yesterday museum assistant Jo, who lives in Wallsend in North Tyneside, set about removing the dust and grime accumulated by the T.Rex, known as Big Mike.

Using a special conservation vacuum cleaner and brushes, she tackled the bones and Bike Mike’s 15cm long teeth.

Jo’s duties include cleaning the stuffed animals in the museum but Big Mike was her biggest job yet.

“It was some challenge because of the size and I had to concentrate quite hard,” she said.

The Newcastle exhibit is one of only four T.Rex replica skeletons on display in the country, the others being in the Natural History Museum in London, at Manchester Museum and Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Dr Sarah Glynn, manager of the Great North Museum: Hancock said:

“Big Mike is one of our favourite exhibits. We regularly see little - and big - people cowering in awe.

“It’s right at the entrance to our Fossil Stories gallery so you get the full impact of the size and ferocity of this huge beast when you walk in.

“It really gives visitors a feel for how big these creatures were.

“It’s a joy to see the excitement of children when they see it.

“But it does accumulate a lot of grime and dust, a lot of which is composed of shed human skin.

“It has lots of oils in it and we don’t want the oils to damage the dinosaur specimen.”

The T.Rex was made by Canadian company Research Casting International, one of the world’s largest providers of museum technical services.

It is an exact replica of the T.Rex found in Montana in 1991, which is on display at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana.

The Newcastle specimen is smaller than the average T.Rex, which stood at around 5.5 metres high and was 12 to 13 metres in length.

The gallery also displays parts from a dinosaur found in Britain .

The plant eater Iguanodon was about the same size as T.Rex and was discovered in 1825 by Dr Gideon Mantell and his wife who lived in East Sussex.

Mrs Mantell first found a fossil tooth from the dinosaur and her husband later exchanged parts of the Iguanodon with William Hutton, a founder member of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne,

He was honorary curator of geology and mineralogy of the Newcastle Museum which was sited behind the Literary and Philosopical Society in Westgate Road - the forerunner of the Hancock Museum, which opened in 1884.

Hutton exchanged fossils found in North East coal seams for the Iguanodon material.

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