Full size T-Rex exhibition coming to Wollaton Hall for 14-month event

Nottingham City Council seeks to approve a decision to bring a full size T Rex specimen

In the event of further waves of the pandemic, provision within the contract will allow the exhibition to be put on hold or terminated without penalty.

Preliminary designs for the exhibition have been developed to ensure that compliance with social distancing practice and the exhibition will set out a one-way system with 2m markers.

The council still aims to achieve a minimum of 300,000 visitors over the course of the exhibition as this equates to 410 visitors per day which is still achievable with social distancing in place.

The executive decision published by the council is to seek approval to enter into a contract for hire of a T Rex specimen from the USA for an exhibition at Wollaton Hall from 2021 for a 14 month period.

The contract includes a 50/50 split on ticket income generated from the exhibition and a 20% commission on related merchandise.

To approve the £180,000 ACE Culture Recovery Grant awarded to cover all upfront costs for the T.rex exhibition.

T Rex specimens are easily the most popular of dinosaurs in the public imagination.

They are found only on the North American continent and are seldom displayed outside of the USA and Canada for any length of time.

There is currently no T Rex on display anywhere in the United Kingdom.

The arrival of the specimen will therefore be of immense interest for the citizens of Nottingham and will play a key role in revitalising the City’s tourism economy. Combined with the re-opening of Nottingham Castle and the proposed city-wide cultural activity planned, it will play a central role in the cultural tourism offer.

Visit Britain is currently citing a downturn of 49% on the internal tourism market as a result of COVID-19. The proposed exhibit of such a very rare specimen will build on the tremendous economic benefit that accrued from the Dinosaurs of China exhibit that took place at the Hall in 2017.

Officers have conducted considerable research on potential options for such a specimen that would normally only be available for purchase or hire, based on a substantial up-front fee. In this case, the item would be made available on an income share of admissions and sales income.

Preparatory costs would be met by external grant sources and so the exhibition would be available at no financial risk to the Council. The City Council Legal Services and Insurance teams have assisted in the exhaustive contract negotiations and a suitable contract has been prepared.

This will be a full-size T. Rex and when displayed will fill the Willoughby Room at 4m tall, 11m in length.

The exhibition itself will be largely digital supported by the Service’s partnership with the University of Nottingham.

Innovative digital/virtual media interactives will immerse the visitor in its world, along with hands-on replicas of his skeleton enabling visitors to handle bones millions of years old.

Initial costs for the design and development and fabrication of the exhibition will be covered by the awarded grant of £180,000 from Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund (an investment in activity to sustain and drive forward services after the impact of the pandemic) and existing Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation grant (exhibition budget).

Throughout the exhibition there will be a programme of events and activities in the park, the museum and the University of Nottingham.

This will include family events, symposiums, talks and tours.

Similarly to Dinosaurs of China, to cover the full cost of the project there would be an admission fee into Wollaton Hall during the run of the exhibition which is from July 2021 to August 2022. Ticket prices are aimed to engage a wide audience so are kept at a nominal fee.

it is expected that a minimum of 300,000 visitors will see the specimen over the 14-month period making covering costs in full and making a contribution of income for the museum service of approximately £194,000. By comparison Dinosaurs of China, had over 100,000 visitors over a four-month period.

The expectation is that it will make a contribution, any shortfall will be resourced from within the museum service budget.

WBWire reported this morning.

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