Dippy's Got Competition At New Dinosaur Exhibition

Dinosaurs: Monster Families at Horniman Museum ★★★★☆

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 22 months ago
Dippy's Got Competition At New Dinosaur Exhibition Dinosaurs: Monster Families at Horniman Museum 4
The Tarbosaurus skeleton.

"Duh, it's not a T-rex, it's a tarbosaurus". So begins an argument between two of the many budding paleontologists inspired by Horniman Museum's latest exhibition, Dinosaurs: Monster Families. If they weren't interested in prehistoric creatures when they arrived, they certainly will be by the time they leave.

The family-friendly exhibition covers all things dinosaur, and does it very well. Large, clear information boards offer an overview of each section, before getting onto the really exciting bits: eggs, bones, skeletons, nests. Basically, anything that will emit a squeal of "cooool" from visitors of a certain age.

Two larger skeletons form the basis of the exhibition, with information organised into sections relating to five types of dinosaurs; sauropods, ceratopsian, oviraptor, therapods and ornithopods. Older children can read about the size of the dinosaurs and where and how they lived.

Colourful art on the walls behind the exhibits is a helping hand for little imaginations which struggle to relate the bones in front of them to the creatures which once walked the earth.

Exploration stations dotted around the exhibition bear the magic words 'Please touch', and as all parents know, little hands don't need telling twice. Add to this the build-a-bone table, excavation sandpit and craft corner, and it makes for a fun, interactive exhibition.

A small number of exhibits relate to other animals — birds and snakes, mainly — meaning that little minds are kept occupied, even when the novelty of the dinos wears off.  Adults will be interested to see elephant bird egg on loan from David Attenborough's private collection, while a pickled snake in particular was causing much excitement for littl'uns when we visited.

Billed as a family-friendly exhibition, adults can learn a lot too. We were wowed by the sheer scale of both the giant oviraptor nest and the adult sauropod femur. Small plaques provide more detailed paleontological information for grown ups who manage to snatch a minute or two to read them before being dragged on to the next skeleton.

Dinosaurs: Monster Families is open at Horniman Museum in Forest Hill until 30 October 2016. Tickets are £7 for adults, £4 for children. We recommend prebooking in school holidays.

Last Updated 17 February 2016