Jurassica is set to bring a bite-size taster of the ambitious £80m project to Portland, welcoming residents and visitors to a ‘pop-up’ exhibition at the Osprey Leisure Centre in Castletown, from Friday August 28 to Monday August 31. The exhibition is a free family event.
Bringing to life some of the sea monsters of the Jurassic Coast, the pop-up exhibitition will feature a ‘paleo lab’, fantastic fossils from the coast, site walks, talks and hands-on activities to amuse and educate adults and children alike.
Alison Smith, project coordinator, said: “The exhibition will also be the first chance for people to see the plans for the project, our galleries and how we propose to use the site which will include our detailed architecture and design models. We want to tell people what Jurassica is and give those a feel for what Jurassica will be like.”
“Jurassica is clearly a powerful idea that has really caught people’s imagination, so much so that managing expectations has proved to be something of a challenge. We have had lots of enquiries from potential visitors who think we are already open and want to book tickets. We are a big project, around £80m, but we are at a very early stage.” Alison added: “We’re only just beginning the 18 month process of taking the project from feasibility to planning.”
A series of public meetings last year saw residents and local businesses turn out to hear the latest developments and put their questions to CEO Michael Hanlon. He commented: “It was important to us that we didn’t do just another town hall meeting, so we’re doing something different with the pop-up.”
The Jurassica project is a prehistoric visitor attraction which will comprise a series of contemporary galleries displaying fossil treasures from the Jurassic coast from the past 200 years. Backed by Patron Sir David Attenborough, it will include an aquarium with animatronic swimming ichthyosaurs, and recreate the Jurassic seashore under a large translucent roof.
Visitors will be able to step back in time to 150 million years ago, when dinosaurs trod the land, sea monsters patrolled the seas and flying pterosaurs flew through the skies.
“The idea is really very simple,” continued Michael, “we take a huge hole in the ground, put a lid on it, and fill it with wonderful things.”
Local businesses have provided vital funding to Jurassica, a registered charity, enabling the project to progress into the next stage of development.
Jurassica has the backing of the Royal Society and the Natural History Museum and was awarded a £300,000 grant by the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, as part of the Government’s Local Growth Deal in 2014.