May 2, 2017, by Shirlene Campbell Ritchie

Dinosaurs of China set sail for the UK

Some very special visitors are on their way from China to Nottingham – Dr Wang Qi talks about what it takes to ship precious dinosaur fossils over 23, 435km from Tianjin to Felixstowe, in time for the Dinosaurs of China exhibition.

Dinosaurs of China is a world exclusive exhibition featuring some of the most important discoveries in palaeontology, including the famous feathered dinosaurs discovered in China. Many of the fossils in the collection have never been displayed outside the republic before.

 After more than a hundred million years in the soil of China, these fossils are going abroad for the first time and they needed some special help from their conservators at the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (IVPP).

The conservators at IVPP have worked hard to ensure that their dinosaurs will arrive in the same condition in which they left China.

Taking stock

When it comes to moving the fossils, it may just be as simple as wrapping them up, placing them in a box, and sticking the box on a truck. However, when the cargo is made up of 26 items, 25 species of dinosaurs and some genuine scientifically significant fossils, this meant they had to be handled with great care.

According to Dr Wang Qi, Assistant Professor of Architecture in the Department of Architecture and Built Environment, the first thing the team at IVPP did, was to dismantle the exhibits and document each bone with photographs and written descriptions.


The hotly anticipated exhibition has stemmed from Dr Wang’s longstanding relationship with IVPP and the growth of his research into architectural spatial narrative and exhibition narrative which, when combined, can provide an enhanced visitor and learning experience. Spurred on by his lifelong passion for palaeontology and biology, the research which has been developed from Dr Wang’s PhD thesis, has proved to be something of a lifeline for the IVPP as it seeks to revitalise and update its architectural space and exhibition narrative.

Dr Wang Qi’s research has been instrumental in bringing the Dinosaurs of China exhibition to Nottingham.


“Following the ‘stocktaking’ and once the IVPP team completed their inventory, they carefully placed each bone in a custom-made styrofoam cradle,” explained Dr Wang.

“Then the bones were packed in lots of foam and set in the crates so that they can’t move.”


“Workers then secured the tops onto each crate and applied a special seal. The crates were then loaded on to a 17metre-long lorry equipped with special shock-absorbers, and held in place with metal frames to stop them from moving and bumping into each other,” he added.


Having cleared customs on 19th April, the dinosaurs set sail from the Port of Tianjin for the UK on Sunday 23rd April. Watch this space for an update when they arrive next month.


About the Dinosaurs of China

Dinosaurs of China is a one-time only world exclusive exhibition of dinosaurs, which will be coming to the UK for the first and only time this summer.

Taking place from 1st July to 29th October 2017, the event will be held at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham and The University of Nottingham’s public art centre, Lakeside Arts. It will be the only time that visitors can see this vast selection of fossils and skeletons outside of Asia.

The exhibition will bring to life the history of how dinosaurs evolved into the birds that live alongside us today and will feature some of the biggest dinosaur skeletons in existence.

For more information, visit:


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