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Natural History Museum

Listed under Museums in London, United Kingdom.

  • Photo of Natural History Museum
  • Photo of Natural History Museum
  • Photo of Natural History Museum
  • Photo of Natural History Museum
  • Photo of Natural History Museum
Photo of Natural History Museum
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Visitors can tell the British Natural History Museum is a unique museum from the second they enter. It was one of a trio of great Victorian museums created at the end of the 19th century, and boasts 70 million items within five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology. It has been beautifully updated for modern day educational needs, and has information bursting from every corner.

Hallways are lined with interactive light-up pictures that will delight every child. The Museum also has plenty of gallery activities that get children interested and entertained in the natural wonders of the world. The galleries are split into colour zones which coordinate with some aspect of the exhibit (i.e.: the green zone talks about the earth’s ecology).

For those a little older, exhibits of nature's most rare, unique and valuable treasures are in a new permanent gallery. Diamonds, gold and gems glitter from The Vault at the end of the room. Visiting areas with life-sized creations of some of the largest creatures on the planet are sure to awe people of all ages. Some of the changing exhibits charge for admission, but the museum is free to enter. This huge museum needs at least two days to fully explore, but if done quickly, visitors can also pop in to the Science Museum connected in the back.

Natural History Museum website.

Written by  Melissa Rubin.

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Natural History Museum Video Text

Botany, Entomology, Mineralology, Paleontology and Zoology – it all sounds very scientific doesn’t it, but as well as the glass cases, intimidating skeletons and stuffed creatures, the Natural History museum has things you’re supposed to touch, play with and experience.

Sir Hans Slone began his collection of dried plants and animal and human skeletons in the last quarter of the 17th Century and then sold it to the British Government to continue. Everything was moved into the current building in 1881. When looking at the building from the outside, check out the patterns of animals and plants around the top of the façade, all the flora and fauna on the west wing still occurred in nature at the time of construction and all the flora and fauna on the east wing were extinct.

There are 70 million specimens in the Natural History Museum’s collection, and that’s not a cheated number including each bone of a dinosaur skeleton as an individual specimen. This hallowed cathedral of nature is ornamented with creatures stuffed or preserved in jars, their skeletons, eggs, fossils, mineral specimens, dried plants, pods and seeds and other significant matter found in nature. Some of what’s on display looks familiar, but some of it looks quite mysterious.

This is the abridged three minute tour of what not to miss.

Standing guard in the entry hall is the first piece you’ll see and one of the Museum’s most famous attractions - Dippy, the 26 metre Diplodocus skeleton cast, he’s been standing guard here since 1905.

The largest remains belonged to a 25 metre long Blue Whale, seen here beside a model of what he would look like whole. When this whale model was made it was the largest of its kind and had to be constructed within this gallery. The people tasked with shaping him built a trapdoor in his belly which they used as a ‘staff lounge’ for their coffee and cigarette breaks, this fueled the urban myth that there’s a time capsule inside him - there isn’t, just a phone book and some coins.

Behind the whale in the mammal gallery are the elephant tusks, which are some of the largest in the world. As is this narwhale tusk, again it’s a tooth, but when it was first discovered people thought it belonged to some kind of unicorn like sea monster, which is not a bad description of a narwhale.

From largest to oldest, this giant sequoia tree was already 1,300 years old when it was felled and this piece, in which compulsive fact-checkers can count all 1,300 rings, was included in the collection.

But the most popular piece in the museum is probably the animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex, he’s been implanted with interactive sensors that make his movements that bit less predictable. His small forearms and tiny eyes may make him slightly less intimidating, but they don’t make his 15 centimetre long teeth, which now sense you approaching, any less sharp. If visitors voting with their feet mean anything the dinosaur gallery is the museum’s most popular gallery, the raised walkway gives a closer view of the skeleton casts of velocerraptors and pterodactyls.

This Edmontosaurus died curled up on its side, and the way it fell and the speed at which it fossilized means that the texture of its skin was preserved as part of the fossil, so this is one of the few dinosaurs whose skin is anything but an imaginative scientist’s interpretation.

Taxidermy isn’t really PC today, but some of these specimens were collected and stuffed hundreds of years ago, by eminent scientists including Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Thomas Huxley; and their worn inclusion in the collection provides an additional insight into man’s exploration of nature and our evolving understanding.

The Geological Museum annex with its preserved remains of a man and dog excavated from the ruins of Pompeii, model of active volcano Mount Pinatubo and ride-able earthquake simulator is now called The Earth Galleries and wasn’t united with the rest of the Natural History Museum until 1986, but now Botany, Entomology, Mineralology, Paleontology and Zoology are all under the same roof.

Free entry means you don’t have to see everything on the same day.

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