An agreement is being signed today in China between The University of Nottingham, Nottingham City Council and the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, that aims to bring a unique dinosaur exhibition to Nottingham in the summer of 2017.

Featuring fossils and specimens never before seen outside of Asia, the exhibition, which will be hosted at Wollaton Hall, with an additional satellite exhibition at Nottingham Lakeside Arts, will bring to life the story of how dinosaurs evolved into the birds that live alongside us today.

The exhibition includes the best preserved dinosaur fossils from anywhere in the world, not just the bones, but also soft parts including skin and feathers. Many of the species are new to science, only discovered and named in the last 20 years, and some as recently as 2015.

One of the highlights of the exhibition will be the Gigantoraptor, which at 4 metres high and 8 metres long is the largest feathered dinosaur ever found. The Gigantoraptor will be accompanied by numerous other dinosaur specimens, such as the flying Microraptor, a close relative of Velociraptor which has wing feathers on its arms and legs.

Image Credit: artist Zhao Chuang

The specimens featured in the exhibition were discovered and studied by leading paleontologists in the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, one of the world’s leading paleontological institutions and part of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences, which has close links with The University of Nottingham.

The collection will be on loan from the Paleozoological Museum of China, Shandong TianYu Museum, and the Dinosaur Museum of Erlianhaote in Inner Mongolia. In addition to the feathered dinosaurs, there will also be specimens of some the largest prehistoric creatures ever found in China.

Councillor Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council, said: “We are absolutely thrilled Nottingham has been chosen to host this remarkable exhibition when it comes to Europe for the first time. The feathered dinosaur collection will attract national and international visitors and amaze and inspire a new generation of young people to learn more about the natural world.

“This is brilliant news for our city and visitor economy, and incredibly exciting for local dinosaur fans and families.

“Nottingham has a rapidly growing reputation in China as the UK’s most China-friendly city. We’re proud of our strong cultural, trade, civic and educational links with our sister city of Ningbo, including the unveiling of two fantastic Chinese stone lions at Highfields Park last year that were gifted to Nottingham by Ningbo as part of the largest UK/China city-to-city event yet, the councils first led trade mission to China last year and the opening of our trade and investment office in Ningbo. I have no doubt that this relationship has helped us to secure such a prestigious Chinese exhibition here in Nottingham.”

Dr. George Baxter, Director of Business Engagement and Innovation Services at The University of Nottingham, added: “Bringing this dinosaur exhibition to Nottingham from China is an enormous coup for the city.

“Due to the links the University has established with the Institute of Vertebrate of Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, we now have a unique opportunity to host a natural history exhibition of international significance in Nottingham, which would be a tremendous boost to tourism and the local economy.”

Dr Adam Smith, curator and palaeontologist at the Nottingham Natural History Museum, Wollaton Hall, said: “This spectacular exhibition will provide an opportunity for visitors to experience some of the most important fossils in the world, including new discoveries that have revolutionised our understanding of dinosaurs and the origin of birds.

“They are helping scientists to understand the origin of birds and feathers – birds are literally dinosaurs. Dinosaurs that learned how to fly!”

The University and City Council are keen to speak to any businesses that may potentially be interested in sponsoring the exhibition.  For more information about sponsorship opportunities for the exhibition, please contact Sally Zhou at the University’s Asia Business Centre or tel: 07816 174241.

Financial support towards the preparatory phase of the exhibition has been contributed by Arts Council England.