Stepping through the main entrance, the sense of entering a cathedral is reinforced by the nave-like form of the Central Hall, though the voices of hundreds of excited children exploring the dinosaurs on display is a far cry from the hushed tranquility of a church.
With a collection of 75 million plants, animals, fossils, rocks and minerals which is growing by 50,000 new specimens a year and it has impressive high-tech exhibits such as animatronic dinosaurs and a simulated earthquake.
If you loved the Ben Stiller movie, Night At The Museum, then you might like the Dino Snores events. Dino Snores and Dino Snores for grown-ups both take place monthly and give visitors a chance to sleep over inside the museum. Kids get a torch-lit trail in the Dinosaurs Gallery, exciting live shows about animals and insects and t-shirt making. Adults get served a three-course dinner in the museum's restaurant, stand-up comedy and a live music show, a midnight feast including edible insects, a life-drawing class and an all-night monster movie marathon.
Open daily 10:00-17:50
Last admission 17:30
I am a crystal and mineral nut and own a lot of semi-precious stones. There are two exhibition rooms at the Natural History museum dedicated to semi-precious and precious stones and minerals.
The main collection is on the first floor (up the flight of stairs) with a beautiful large exhibition room filled with all kinds of minerals and stones. In that room, amongst myriads of other exhibits, is the largest piece of gold found (see my photo). At the end of the exhibition room is the Vault - on display is f.ex. a privately owned collection of diamonds and some exquisite specimens of minerals.
There is another exhibition room, a gallery, with semi-precious and very precious gemstones, rocks and minerals, which is a part of the Earth Gallery show, called Earth's Treasures. Amongst extraordinary gems there is the world's largest modern-cut flawless diamond (see my photo).
I am such a fan of these stones that I could spend a whole day just in these two exhibition rooms.
There are a lot of various stones for sale in the museum store, but they are overly priced, you can get most of them for 49 pence in Camden Town, I buy them there.
I add a travelogue here with more photos of these beautiful stones.
Every time I go to London, I go visit the Natural History Museum. This museum is such a magical place and there are so many interesting exhibition rooms to choose between (or just go see them all) that you need hours to spend in there. I have even got lost in there - as the Earth Hall is a bit difficult to find. I stumbled upon this awesome Victorian style museum by accident and was amazed at how beautiful this building was so I stepped inside - and have been there many times since.
There are 2 other museums next to the Natural History Museum - The Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. One can easily spend 2 days here at these fantastic museums.
Right as you enter the Natural History Museum there is a big skeleton of a dinosaur and a lot of extinct animals. There are showrooms with more dinosaurs on the ground floor, a great selection, with some of them moving, f.ex. a T. Rex, which is moving and roaring.
Then there is Earth science show at the Earth Hall, which takes you through the "earth" in an escalator. I have added a travelogue here with more photos of the Earth exhibition. It is awesome as well. At the show you will get to experience an earth-quake and get to know all about volcanos.
Then there is the bird-exhibition room, the insect-exhibition room, Large Mammal´s hall with f.ex. sceletons of whales - and a Darwin Centre of evolution and more and more.
The Natural History Museum has on display myriad of gems and precious metals. The mineral collections at the museum are so big that I think they merit a special tip - so I decided on adding one ;)
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 10:00-17:50 every day. Last admission at 17:30.
Admission: Free entrance.
Photos are allowed, with flash.
The last time I visited they checked everybodys' bag for knives, nothing that can pierce something was allowed.
Next to the Victoria and Albert Museum is found the British Natural History Museum. It was founded in the 1880s, when the natural history components of the British Museum were sliced off from that latter institution to create a new centre of learning. The collection maintained in the British Museum was initially jealously guarded by its curators, and public viewings were highly discouraged. In the 1860s this changed, and a new spirit of public education was infused into the management of the specimens, which quickly led to the realization that the space at the British Museum was not sufficient. The new South Kensington building was specially constructed to house the Museum in typically Victorian style, with the exterior and interior completed in terra cotta tiles. The Museum absorbed both geological and evolutionary science institutes in the latter part of the 20th century, but its primary source of interest has always been its massive dinosaur skeletons (always a favourite with children). It also has extensive collections of mammal, bird and fish species, as well as less popular, but no less educational, exhibits on rocks and minerals, and the composition of the earth.
The Natural History Museum was always one of my favourite days out when I was a kid. I loved the dinosaurs and the animal displays. I think it also helped develop the desire for understanding that led me to become a scientist but I hadn't been here for years until October 2012 when I found myself in London with a few hours to spare before meeting up with some old friends in the West End, so I decided to head off to Kensington to relive that part of my childhood.
The best thing about revisiting the Natural History Museum is that as an adult it is probably more interesting than it is as a child. As an adult you have more awareness of the relevance of some of the information being presented and more context to appreciate the beauty of nature and the natural sciences.
If you visit at the weekend the place will be packed with families bringing their children to see the dinosaur displays and unfortunately that makes it hard to properly enjoy those parts of the museum. The effect does knock on to other parts of the building too as parents attempt to drag bored children around the other sections which are obviously less exciting to youngsters. During the week I'm told it's much better.
The museum is divided into colour coded zones. The blue zone is the most popular as it contains those famous dinosaur bones and the mammal displays as well as the section on human biology. The Human Bio section really impressed me. It conveys some really quite complicated and advanced concepts in such plain and simple terms. Parents be warned however, the museum does not dodge the more colourful parts of how our bodies work. I saw a number of parents trying to divert the children away from the displays to avoid what they saw as awkward questions. However, it could be a good way to help explain the facts of life for parents who are struggling to find the right words themselves!
My favourite sections are the green zone which conatins the "Our place in evolution" gallery and the red zone which explores the way the world works with simulations of earthquakes and volcanos all part of the journey. This section also contains the important sections on how life developed and changed on our planet until we humans appeared so recently. I was delighted to see that they have a reproduction of that most important of fossils, archaeopteryx.
The orange zone contains some of the newest stuff in the museum including the Darwin centre and the amazing cocoon structure which is well worth a visit. It's also the quietest part of the museum.
The main hall of the museum feels like a cathedral, but a cathedral to science and reason rather than religion. I was delighted to see that now the statue of Charles Darwin has been given pride of place on the main stairwell overlooking the main hall, where he truly belongs.
Entrance to the museum is free and photography is allowed inside.
The highlight at the Natural History Museum is the dinosaur gallery with the blue whale and the Diplodocus skeleton, which belonged to a huge plant-eating beast with a long neck, usually 5m high and 27m long, weighing up to 20 tonnes. There are hundreds of interactive exhibits as well as temporary exhibitions. The magnificent building was constructed over 100 years ago and opened its doors to the public in 1881. The Darwin Centre houses a collection of many millions of specimens is worth a visit as well as Attenborough studios which often has educational events.
Open 10am and closes 17.50
That’s one of the museums that children adored. They didn’t notice the imposing building (I did) but the exhibition was extremely attractive.
The trend were dinosaurs, well documented there. After the disapointment of dinosaur's parade in Disneyworld, the comfort of the authenticity.
Natural history museums are usually not top on my list of things to see, it took me 18 visits to London to visit the natural history museum and only because it was raining and I was tired of being wet.
The museum is divided into four colored sections, you'll find the impressive dinosaur skeleton in the Blue Zone, this section is devoted to animals, both past and present. The Green Zone is full of plants, insects, and ecology, I'm pretty sure that I didn't wander into the Green Zone. The Red Zone is where you'll find minerals, rocks, and gemstones, I spent at least an hour wandering through the cases and cases and case of rocks. I'm pretty sure I didn't get to the Orange Zone either which is the Darwin Centre.
The museum is free to visit.
The Natural History Museum is a great place to visit, Not only is the building beautiful but it is home to an astonishing display of dinosours.
Although the museum is always busy with school trips and tourists it is well laid out and each area colour coded, The central hall displays the Diplodocus skeleton and a 1,300-year-old giant sequoia tree. The Red zone is where you will find some truly precious treasures in this glittering display of rocks, minerals, diamonds and gemstones. The Blue Zone is home to dinosours, large mammals and human biology. The green zone is all about the environment and evolution and includes the historical bird collection. The orange zone lets you explore the Wildlife Garden and see behind the scenes of the Darwin Centre.
It is a perfect place to take kids and you could easily spend a full day here combining it with a trip to the science museum which is just round the corner on Exhibition Road.
Best of all entry is free!!!!
(work in progress)
When I was recently editing my London page, I couldn't believe that I had yet to write a review of the one place in London that is guaranteed to make me happy: the Natural History Museum.
Some of my earliest and happiest memories are of the Natural History Museum, as my Mum would take the three of us there on an outing using a Red Bus Rover pass (an earlier version of a Travelcard, whose name now has a distinctly nostalgic Enid Blyton ring to it). South Kensington was quite a trek from where we lived, and as the Red Bus Rover didn't include the tube service, it seemed to take an age to get there (I have a distinct recollection that the phrase, "Are we there yet?" featured as a sort of Greek chorus to our journey and must have driven Mum up the wall).
But it was worth every minute of the journey. My most powerful memory is of the skeleton of the blue whale suspended from the ceiling in the main hall, and, like all children, I was entranced by the dinosaur exhibit - and now that I have children of my own, I still am!
This is a staple of every visit we make to London, and it would be a very unusual child that wouldn't have a whale of a time (if you'll excuse the pun). The dinosaur animatronics displays are probably the main crowd pleaser, but they are only one of many, many attractions that will keep Little People entertained regardless of the weather outside.
But that's not to say that the Natural History Museum is just for kids - indeed, far from it, as this is a museum that will bring out the latent David Attenborough in almost any adult.
My favourite display is the exhibit of marine fossils. It features the original ichthyosaur excavated by the extraordinary fossil hunter (and one of my personal heroines) Mary Anning in Lyme Regis. There are also two skeletons of pregnant ichthyosaurs: in one case, three little foetus skeletons are visible between the mother's ribs and in the second, the baby is forever frozen in the birthing process, with its little tail protruding from its mother's body.
The main hall is presided over by an excellent statue of the tyrannical Richard Owen, the doyenne of Victorian scientific circles - and the first person to coin the term 'dinosaur'. Owen was a towering figure of the era, who suffered from no lack of self esteem and was the scientific equivalent of the bombastic self-made millionaires of the Industrial Revolution. He was an excellent scientist, but by all accounts, a deeply unpleasant and vengeful man, who never shirked from using his own influence to blight the careers of others whom he felt a threat to his own work or celebrity status.
Quite apart from the extraordinary collection on display, it's worth a visit to the Natural History Museum, just to appreciate its stunning Neo Gothic architecture. The museum was built in the Victorian era when science was topical and sexy (rather than embarrassingly geeky), and the fact that no expense was spared on the design and construction reflects the importance and heavyweight funding that was made available. Look in particular for the glorious animal carvings that punctuate the decor.
There is also a fantastic gift shop (as well as a separate gift shop that focuses on dinosaurs), from which I have yet to emerge without at least one bagful of goodies! It has a wonderful selection of nature-themed books and toys and is a great place to look for stocking fillers in the runup to Christmas.
In winter, the Natural History Museum also hosts one of London's outdoor skating rinks, which looks like heaps of fun.
And, best of all, like many major London museums, it's free! Although donations are welcomed, and I think you'd need to be pretty churlish (or very skint) to not slip a little something into the collection box in recognition of the world class museum you've just experienced.
Lastly, a few practical issues. The nearest tube station is South Kensington, but be warned that it's quite a long walk - mostly through underground passages, which youll be thankful for if the weather isn't good. The museum itself involves quite some walking, so if you're visiting with smaller children, it's worth bringing a pushchair (stroller) into which you can bundle them when they are too exhausted to walk anymore, even if they're of an age where you usually wouldn't use one. There are also a few sets of steps on the way - not enormous flights - but enough to make like irksome if you're pushing a pram, pushchair or wheelchair, so just be aware that you may need some help to negotiate these: if needs be, ask a passerby for help.
Finally, the museum attracts huge numbers of visitors, particularly over weekends and public holidays, as well as many school groups. The museum is big enough that the crowds are seldom oppressive, but if you'd like the place (comparatively) to yourself, try to visit on a weekday in the afternoon.
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