Historic Crystal Palace concrete dinosaur gets high-tech facelift after suffering breathtaking decay
A Victorian concrete dinosaur successfully underwent a high-tech facelift after its damaged jaw and nose were replaced with a 3D printed facsimile.
The Megalosaurus statue at Crystal Palace Park in south-east London, one of 30 famous sculptures that were unveiled in 1854 and was the very first attempt to create life-size reconstructions of dinosaurs, had started showing signs of his age when his jaw collapsed. last May.
The damage prompted an analysis of the other sculptures in the 167-year-old collection which found that a number had developed cracks, putting them in danger of losing various limbs, teeth and tails. The 30 sculptures listed in Category I have since been added to Historic England’s List of Endangered Heritage.
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The damaged megalosaur has now returned to its former glory after the heritage watchdog used money from a fund set up to help the cultural sector recover from the Covid-19 pandemic to pay for a new nose and a new prosthetic jaw, with 22 teeth.
London-based specialist conservation firm Taylor Pearce’s six-month project used 3D scanning and printing techniques to create a lightweight, color-matched replacement for the crumbling concrete original. The new parts have been installed in recent days, ahead of the lifting of pandemic restrictions this week.
Duncan Wilson, Managing Director of Historic England, said: “It is heartwarming to think that this restoration work will give so many people so much enjoyment as we begin to explore historic places again.”
The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs were the creation of Victorian nature artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and represent one of the first attempts to democratize natural history by creating an educational exhibit in a public place.
Science has since established that the depiction of many dinosaurs is somewhat inaccurate, but the sculptures remain important in tracing the history of science education.