Campaign launched to put oldest known resident of Milton Keynes on permanent display

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Very few people know about him

Milton Keynes Museum has launched a crowdfunding campaign to finally bring the area's oldest known resident home to the history hub.

The Ichthyosaur fossil was revealed during excavation work for Caldecotte Lake 42 years ago, in 1982.

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Since then, the MK Ichthyosaur has been a quiet resident of Milton Keynes Library. But is now time to bring it to the Museum to be part of a permanent display in the Museum’s ancient gallery, where it can be examined and conserved properly for future generations, says the museum.

Artist's impression of the Ichthyosaur as Milton Keynes Museum intends to display itArtist's impression of the Ichthyosaur as Milton Keynes Museum intends to display it
Artist's impression of the Ichthyosaur as Milton Keynes Museum intends to display it

It could even become as famous as Dippy the Diplodocus in the Hall of the Natural History Museum.

“When the Ichthyosaur was discovered, it was difficult to find somewhere suitable to display it - nowhere seemed anxious to take it,” said museum director Bill Griffiths.

“Fortunately, Milton Keynes Central Library could offer the security needed. Now we are aiming to tell the history of our city in one place and the Ichthyosaur is a key part of that story.”

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The fundraiser will allow the Ichthyosaur to become a permanent part of the museum's impressive new galleries which are set to open this autumn.

A drawing of the IchthyosaurA drawing of the Ichthyosaur
A drawing of the Ichthyosaur

But it needs to raise £25,000 through the Art Fund backed appeal to make this possible – and has less than five weeks to do it.

“It's not as easy as simply removing the display case and bringing him to Wolverton,” said Bill, “If only it was!

“The fossil needs to be removed, examined and conserved so we don't lose any of it, and to prevent it from corroding. We need to restore it to pristine condition, and the structure housing it needs to be replaced.

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“We really hope the public of Milton Keynes will rally and help us to raise the funds necessary for the restoration,” Bill said, “Our supporters are wonderfully loyal, and every penny really will count. This is the oldest exhibit we'll have in the Museum. It is intriguing for all, and will spark the imaginations of children, which is wonderful.

“That Milton Keynes had Ichthyosaurs swimming in our warm seas when the dinosaurs ruled the land is part of our true history and that is what we are about.”

People donating to the fundraiser can choose from a number of incentives and awards, from enamel badges and limited edition artwork to hand-on experiences with never-before-seen fossils.

You will even be able to suggest a name for MK's friendly monster.

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“It will be absolutely fantastic to have the Ichthyosaur coming to take centre stage in the story of ancient Milton Keynes,” said Bill, “It will welcome visitors just as Dippy, the Diplodocus, did in the Hall of the Natural History Museum.

“The Ichthyosaur and Dippy are about the same age, and while it may not be a dinosaur, and may not be as big as Dippy, unlike Dippy, our Ichthyosaur is a real fossil - not just a cast.

“If we are successful, I know that for years to come visitors to the museum will take the Ichthyosaur to their hearts.”

To donate to the campaign, you can visit here.