The IVPP

Having already covered the BSPG in a fair bit of depth, it seemed about time I got round to the IVPP (the Insitutute for Vertebrate Palaeontology & Palaeoanthropology if you didn’t know) since I’ve been here over two years now. As a research institute for vertebrates (and especially dinosaurs) it’s got to be one of the most famous going, but being in Beijing and one of only four museums in the city with dinosaurs on display, it’s no great surprise that it doesn’t get too many visitors.

While I have posted a great many pictures on here at various times from the IVPP these have all been of individual specimens rather than the galleries or exhibits which is the intention here. Like the BSPG in fact the exhibition arm of the institute is slightly separate and actually goes under the name of the Palaeozoological Museum of China.

As a very minor bit of history, the IVPP (in a sense, it’s undergone a few name changes) is 80 years old this year which I’m only just in time to celebrate. It was largely founded by the famous C.C. Young who worked on and named a great many dinosaurs in the 1900s and many of his specimens are still on show here (like Dsungaripterus).

There are three floors to the IVPP and like the BSPG this is largely built around one main central exhibit with extended balconies etc. around it. On the ground floor is a small room for a temporary exhibit (currently on Darwin, somewhat inevitably this year, though rather well done) with a small dinosaur hall containing things like Sinraptor, Monolophosaurus, Limusaurus, Bellusaurus and others. Next to it is a hall devoted to early humans and the various ethnic groups of China which includes various skulls and artefacts.

Onto the main hall which is dominated by the mounts of Mamenchisaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Tsintaosaurus and a Tuojiangosaurus losing a fight with Monolophosaurus. Around these are a number or Liaoning specimens and casts and a few (frankly token) specimens of early fishes, amphibians and reptiles as well as one one ‘recent’ exhibit, a rather nice Latimeria.

On the wall is the first of three superb murals covering the passage of time and showing animals recovered from Chinese fossil beds. There is also one for the main dinosaur gallery on the second floor for the Mesozoic and a third on the mammals floor covering the reign of mammals through to the last ice age. Sadly there is no label to tell you any of this, so I suspect that while most people appreciate that are, the aspect of time and the Chinese species will probably pass them completely. In fact as with many museums, the single biggest failing of the IVPP is the simple lack of information on the specimens (though this is, sadly, exceptionally common).

On the second floor we find many more dinosaurs including Psittacosaurus, Lufengosaurus, Chiliantisaurus and more, plus some odd bones, footprints, eggs, some turtles, an ichthyosaur and a few other archosaurs like Lotosaurus. There is also more Liaoning stuff, though this time all the non-dinosaur and pterosaur stuff, so there are therefore actually some fish, plants and insects here too.

Finally the top floor covers mammals with various elephants, rhinos and cervids and lots of small stuff (and teeth) though it’s rather light on predators despite the excellent collections. I’m not sure there’s even a panda on display which seems an oversight really.

Overall though it’s a pretty comprehensive collection with a few hundred specimens on display and has a lot of material for its size.  Fish and amphibian lovers will feel hard done by as the overwhelming majority of the exhibitions focus on the sexier dinosaurs and mammals, but it’s a good collection for such a small museum and well worth a few hours of anyone’s time.

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