American Dinosaur Abroad: A Cultural History of Carnegie's Plaster Diplodocus

American Dinosaur Abroad: A Cultural History of Carnegie's Plaster Diplodocus

by Ilja Nieuwland


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In early July 1899, an excavation team of paleontologists sponsored by Andrew Carnegie discovered the fossil remains in Wyoming of what was then the longest and largest dinosaur on record. Named after its benefactor, the Diplodocus carnegii—or Dippy, as it’s known today—was shipped to Pittsburgh and later mounted and unveiled at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 1907. Carnegie’s pursuit of dinosaurs in the American West and the ensuing dinomania of the late nineteenth century coincided with his broader political ambitions to establish a lasting world peace and avoid further international conflict. An ardent philanthropist and patriot, Carnegie gifted his first plaster cast of Dippy to the British Museum at the behest of King Edward VII in 1902, an impulsive diplomatic gesture that would result in the donation of at least seven reproductions to museums across Europe and Latin America over the next decade, in England, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Russia, Argentina, and Spain. In this largely untold history, Ilja Nieuwland explores the influence of Andrew Carnegie’s prized skeleton on European culture through the dissemination, reception, and agency of his plaster casts, revealing much about the social, political, cultural, and scientific context of the early twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822945574
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 04/30/2019
Edition description: 1
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 1,117,632
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Ilja Nieuwland is a historian of science - in particular paleontology - attached to the Huygens Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Note on Names and Classification xv

Note on Translation and Transcription xvii

Introduction: A Convoluted Dinosaur 3

1 Dinomania: Giant Sloths, Sea Snakes, and Concrete Contraptions 21

2 His Majesty Notices a Drawing: The Tradition of Copying Dinosaurs 49

3 Getting Diplodocus Ready for the Stage: From Pittsburgh to London 67

4 "The Years of Wandering": Germany 89

5 Visite au Diplodocus: Paris 133

6 "Properly Messy": Crouching Dinosaurs, National Competition, and Science Reform 159

7 Diaspora: From Rio to Madrid 209

Conclusion: Diplodocus after Madrid-and after Carnegie 249

Notes 259

Bibliography 287

Index 309

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