It's about time that Dinosaurs made it to Gloucester's City Museum which is located just off of the main shopping high street in Gloucester. As for as long as I can remember Gloucester Museum has never done a proper job museum exhibition on dinosaurs, which personally I think is a crying shame so this has been a long awaited exhibition!
First of all it’s a PAID exhibition, which I don’t mind, but you might find it to be a bit pricey for a large family, but you get free entrance into the other Gloucester Folk Museum with it so that’s a bonus, I think. The exhibition is split in to two parts, the first half of the exhibition space is takes you through through a mini ramble through the Mesozoic. Here you'll see dinosaurs like Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Velociraptor and very terrifying Pteranodon set in their surroundings. Unfortunately I can’t see much value in this part of the exhibition except for the occasional Jurassic selfie as they have even misspelt the sign for Deinonychus!
The second half of the exhibition is much more interesting and here you will find something a little bit more akin to what you come across in a museum, old style glass cabinets rammed with fossils that probably haven't seen the light of day for years. Accompanying these relics are some of the oldest palaeontological models I have ever seen on display, guaranteed these have also been dug out of the collections from many decades ago, perhaps they were from a time when the museum was free and used to get regular visitors. Personally I love these old models as they tell a time of when people used to think of dinosaurs as slow lumbering reptiles.
The 'fossils in display cabinets' half of the exhibition is the most interesting as I can see the curator has gone to great lengths to dig out some of Gloucestershire's most famous and most interesting fossil finds. Some of the displays are fantastically splayed out and I was particularly taken back by the lovely show of old geological monographs that celebrate the 175th birthday of the word Dinosaur being coined by Richard Owen. (I’m not sure how the collections conservator would react to how all these books are piled up!)
Most of the signs are fun, informative and interesting. Except the first sign you come across is a little bit confusing (see picture, see if you can make sense of this?). The ‘what makes a dinosaur’ is too big, too complicated for anyone to understand and has clearly been copied from a Wikipedia page, a huge sign that whoever wrote this had NO IDEA and couldn’t even be bothered to consult anyone or google it. Its target market is everyone which has mixed and distorted their message in quite a few places as there is just too much writing in the display cabinets, the signs are too high for children to read and there is a HUGE lack of palaeo art and illustration considering it’s aimed at families.
At least the gift shop is well stocked with dinosaur and fossily things I hear you say! Well, there’s not a lot here I would consider breaking my purse open for. It’s the same old boring museum gift shop stuff, even though I will literally buy most things with a dinosaur on it! There are nowhere near enough dinosaur books, I think I saw 2, and OK I wouldn’t mind a dinosaur tail but not at that price!
Overall I think that Gloucester Museum has done an OK job considering the trouble that they are going through with the council, budget and staff cuts. Even though they have put together this exhibition with minimal funding and little to no knowledge of the subject I think the staff who are meant to be ‘experts’ in creating museum displays could have done more to add a hands on or touching aspect to the exhibition and a little bit of artwork here and there wouldn’t have done any harm considering their primary target audience are families. Generally families will enjoy this small dinosaur exhibition in Gloucester but palaeo fanatics might not find anything of interest here sadly.
Gloucester Museum has really shown its (old) age, lack of funding and enthusiasm for this topic as this is a great dinosaur exhibition if you’re in the 1990’s. They even had BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs playing in the background which came out in 1999, 18 years ago! In fact the only modern bit of this exhibition is the awfully rendered digital dinosaur art.
This demonstrates how much county museums are suffering from council cuts and in little county museums like Gloucester’s you can really see how places like this are going downhill fast through lack of funding. I love a dinosaur exhibition and how they can promote palaeontology to younger generations and I hate to say it like this but this is an example of HOW NOT to do a dinosaur exhibition. Dinosaurs as a topic is too broad and they might have done better to focus on their collection and representing it honestly. Perhaps they shouldn’t have spent so much money on this ‘one hit wonder’ and reinvested it into the museum and making it a little bit more relevant within the Gloucester City community. It is slightly disappointing because if these cuts didn't come at the time they did this would have had the potential to be a good exhibition celebrating Gloucester’s dinosaurs.