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Triceratops establishes dominion in Green Street, Cambridge (once they got it through the door, that is)



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Some Of My Best Friends Are Dinosaurs is not just the name of a new exhibition being held at Extraordinary Objects in Cambridge, it has also come true in a sense for Carla Nizzola, the director of the gallery.

Triceratops skull arrives at Extraordinary Objects in Green Street. Picture: Keith Heppell
Triceratops skull arrives at Extraordinary Objects in Green Street. Picture: Keith Heppell

For Carla now has in her possession the actual skull of a triceratops. Did not think it was possible to buy a dinosaur? Well think again. In May, Christie’s sold an entire Raptor skeleton for $12.4m. Meanwhile, in 2021, the auction house sold ‘Stan’ the T-Rex to a mysterious anonymous bidder for $31.8m, the highest price ever paid at auction for a fossil.

It is within this context that Extraordinary Objects, located on Green Street in the city centre, presents its new exhibition: Some of My Best Friends Are Dinosaurs, curated by the Connor Brothers, alongside natural history enthusiast Carla.

Carla says: “I’m in the process of putting together an exhibition which launches in a couple of weeks, and it’s a show curated by the Connor Brothers, an artist duo, and it’s basically a two-year labour of love. We’re huge fans of natural history and also art, so it’s kind of a reflection of our passion for dinosaurs and fossils, as well as art.

“We’ve travelled the world collecting these pieces over two years and this is showcasing them in an art gallery. The special thing is just to give people the chance to see them in a different setting, rather than a museum – and everything’s going to be for sale as well so it’s an exciting concept, merging contemporary art and natural history.”

Triceratops skull arrives at Extraordinary Objects in Green Street. Picture: Keith Heppell
Triceratops skull arrives at Extraordinary Objects in Green Street. Picture: Keith Heppell

The exhibition, including the triceratops skull, opens on Saturday, July 2 (following a private viewing on July 1) and runs until October 2. So how did Carla and the London-based Connor Brothers get their hands on the skull?

“So over three or four years now, we’ve started developing quite good relationships with lots of palaeontologists around the world,” explains Carla, “and it started by meeting this guy called Chris Moore, who’s a palaeontologist in Dorset.

“He finds lots of ichthyosaurs on the coast etc and he told us about this annual fossil fair in Tuscon, and it’s kind of like the biggest fossil fair in the world. Palaeontologists from all over the world come and put their works on display and we met these guys from the Black Hills Institute [in Hill City, South Dakota].

“They’ve been around for ages and they own a digging site in the Black Hills fossilised lake area, and we bought a couple of dinosaur bones from them before. We’re always asking them, ‘When you find something – or if you’ve got a work in progress – please let us know’.

“We went there at the beginning of this year and they said, ‘We’re working on this, are you interested?’ And it was a triceratops skull! It’s a half a one, it’s not a full one – obviously a full one wouldn’t even fit through the gallery door...

“We were extremely interested and we left, thought about it, and decided to go for it. It was found by them at their dig site in Wyoming. The Black Hills Lake spreads across a couple of states; it’s a huge, ancient prehistoric lake full of lots of exciting things. They excavated it and have been working on it for quite a few years – now it’s in Cambridge.”

Mike Snelle from artistic duo the Connor Brothers and Carla Nizzola from Extraordinary Objects. Picture: Keith Heppell
Mike Snelle from artistic duo the Connor Brothers and Carla Nizzola from Extraordinary Objects. Picture: Keith Heppell

The triceratops skull reached the city last Thursday evening – and the Cambridge Independent was there to capture its arrival – having been in a storage facility in London for a week. “One of my couriers collected it and then we had to unpack it in the crate in the van – very, very carefully,” says Carla, “and it managed to fit through the door of the gallery.”

Carla says the reaction from passers-by has been “incredible”. “We’ve had so many people stop and look, taking pictures, double takes... there’s a lot of people coming to the show. I’m sure the gallery’s going to be super busy for the next few months.”

Triceratops skull arrives at Extraordinary Objects in Green Street. Picture: Keith Heppell
Triceratops skull arrives at Extraordinary Objects in Green Street. Picture: Keith Heppell

With Jurassic Park: Dominion now in cinemas, the sight of a triceratops skull is surely to be popular. “Lots of kids are really excited and lots of adults. It’s pretty special. We’ve named her as well, we thought it appropriate to name her Tracey.”

Visit extraordinaryobjects.co.uk.

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