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The National History museum is one of London’s premier museums. Originally founded as part of the British Museum in the early 19th century, it had a rocky start with many exhibits getting destroyed through bad management. It moved to its current premises in Kensington in the 1880s but it wasn't for another 80 or so years that it became an independent museum in its own right.
The building it is housed in is an amazing Gothic style structure, with high ceilings, arches, and a elegant staircases. You can't miss see Dippy the replica Diplodocus skeleton, which takes pride of place in the entrance hall.
The dinosaurs are a key attraction here, but sadly on my last visit they were on holiday (being cleaned). There are skeletons, models and stuffed animals for a variety of species, including a massive model blue whale. There is info on Humans and their evolution which was interesting - a lot is interactive. This is great but the museum gets very busy at weekends and during school holidays - I had to queue to get in one Saturday.
There are also plenty of fossils and insects as well as a gallery on natural phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanoes (the earthquake simulator is good fun).
This summer they a special exhibition on butterflies, coral reefs and Wildlife photography. I think these special exhibitions were reasonably priced, and often targeted at younger visitors (but not all). However, there are still plenty of things here to see as the rest of the museum is free.
Facilities include a couple of cafes and shops.
ABOUT: The Natural History Museum is in Kensington London and is easy to get there vis bus, train or tube. Here you will see and get the chance to read lots of information about a range of different things including dinosaurs, mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles, human biology, blue whales, marine invertebrates and more. It is free to get into The Natural History Muesum although certain areas may be busy or may be closed due to being busy or school visits.
VISITING: Me and my sister went here when we had some time to spare in London. In the main entrance is a huge dinosaur skeleton which is truly amazing. Around the main hall there are different ways you can go. There is no specific way but we started off on the left and made our way round. Round the museum is different things to look at such as skeletons and life-sizes models of dinosaurs and other animals. You can also read plenty of information about the animals and what happened to them and why they no longer exist. You also get to learn about the earth such as earthquakes, volcanoes and other things. They have some beautiful information displayed and things you can read at look at such as fossils and other things.
There are also interactive areas as well, where you can do puzzles or other things. The muesum is so big you can easily spend a good couple of hours here. Me and my sister enjoyed the visit here but didn't spend a great deal of time here due to it being rather hot in here at the time, which probably isn't helped by the glass ceilings and windows as it's a very big building. There are various different shops you can visit in the mueseum to buy gifts, souvenirs and other items relating to the different galleries in the mueseum.
At different times of the year they may have additional galleries and things. For example when we visited they had a section about coral reef and also about butterflies but you do have to pay in order to get into these sections, but I have heard that they are well worth it. We didn't visit any of the pay sections when we visited here.
OVERALL: This is a great free museum that is worth a look if you are in the area. Younger children may find it boring but I think adults will find it very interesting.
The natural History Museum in London is an example of just how brilliantly we can do hings in this country. It is a fabulous museum that cannot fail to grasp your attention and hold through a series of well sectioned and excellently presented displays. There wasn't a bit of it that I didn't like (apart, perhaps, from the tiger in the taxidermy section!). I can't recommend it enough if you are in the city for any length of time; it would be a real shame to miss it.
We visited on a Wednesday morning and, whilst there were lots of school groups there (seemingly enjoying themselves), it didn't seem crowded because the museum is such a big place. I understand that i can get very busy during the school holidays and at weekends, so try and avoid them if you can. Part of the reason for this is no doubt the fact that it is free to get in. There are things you do need to pay for, such as the cloakroom and the handy maps that have a recommended donation of a pound. The various cafes inside the museum aren't cheap either, but you don't mind that because you are getting so much for nothing with the museum itself.
There are four colour co-ordinated sections that cover things like the earth, animals, the sea and so on and the colouring makes it very easy to navigate the museum and see what you want to see. The map has a handy list of the big hitters and their location within the building. We particularly loved the mock up of an Asian supermarket where you can experience an earthquake after walking through and series of fascinating interactive displays about what causes an earthquake. This is in the red section.
There are lots of other things that will engage children and adults of all ages - the dinosaur exhibit is excellent and the animatronic T-Rex is nothing short of terrifying! You can be wowed by moon rocks, astonished by the giant blue whale and frightened by creepy crawlies, all the time learning from the fun fact filled placards that accompany every one of the thousands of exhibits.
We spent a morning in the museum and saw all of the main things we wanted to see (I am pregnant and so have a low capacity for walking and being on my feet at the moment, otherwise we'd have spent a lot longer there) but I think you could easily spend a couple of days there and not see everything or indeed be bored by the museum.
Absolutely, 100% recommended for everyone!
Have I tell you that I love museums? If I haven''t I will now: I LOVE MUSEUMS. And this Natural History Museum in London is one of my favourite museum until now.
If I am from Norwich, and going to take a trip there, I usually would get the morning bus to Victoria Coach station, and from there take the District or Circle line to South Kensington tube station. From there everything is so much easier. You will find a big sign "Museum" which lead you to a long subway tunnel, and suddenly on your left hand side you would see the exit to Natural History Museum on the Exhibition road.
You wouldn''t miss it. It is a huge concrete building with (usually) the crowds of family or school children in the entrance.
This museum has three different zones. Red, blue and green zones. The red zone is my favourite, and it is the closest to the entrance. It is about the earth, how it''s shaped, how it''s evolve, and its natural resources and treasures. The green and the blue zones are where you would find the animals and the vegetations from the pre historic, the extinct, and the evolution. And apart from these three zones you could also find one Darwin centre, with (of course) a big Charles Darwin statue there.
The entrance is free, but there are always special exhibition which require you to pay to get in. This special exhibition is changing from time to time, so there will always be something new in this museum every time I go there. How exciting.
The souvenir shop and the cafeteria is on the right hand side if you come from the Exhibition road entrance. The food is a little bit expensive for me, so I usually bring my own food. They wouldn''t allow you to eat your own food in the cafeteria, but they provide you the picnic area near the green zone for this. You could find the cloak room as well, if you bring too much layer and it is too much hassle to carry them around.
It is a great place to bring little children to. It is very educational, and exciting. Even I feel like a little children again every time I go here. However, this museum is always more crowded in bank holidays and summer, so you really need to plan your visit if you bring children, for your own convenience.
The Natural History Museum in London is one of my favourite places to take my two children. They both enjoy the huge range of exhibits, but their favourites are the dinosaurs (my kids actually call it the dinosaur museum) and the earth science section on volcanoes and earthquakes. The museum is huge and the front (main entrance) is a magnificent example of architecture. The main building was purpose built as a museum in the late 1870s-1880s and was opened in 1881, and incorporates animals and reptiles into the masonry which is stunning. The building itself is something to be seen with its ornate masonry and pure elegance. There has recently been a more modern addition in the Darwin centre which houses displays of specimens and plenty of hands on interactive activities based around science, you also get to see the scientists at work, as the museum is famous for its research.
The museum houses five main collections which are Botany, entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology. There are a huge range of examples and exhibits covering all areas. This museum is aimed at both adults and children alike and I think anybody can find something of interest in this museum. The kids generally are drawn to the dinosaur collection, which can get quite busy so I advise if you are planning on seeing this exhibit (including an animatronic T-Rex)try and maybe aim to start there.. My oldest can't get enough of this. I would say that the t-Rex could scare particularly sensitive younger children, so please bear this in mind.
Another favourite is the famous "Dippy" which is a fossilized skeleton of Diplodocus, which dominates the main entrance hall. My kids love the mammal's exhibit with all of the elephants and lions, but the true star of the mammal show is the blue whale, which hangs majestically from the ceiling in the centre of the room. I remember this from when I was young and it still amazes me the size and beauty of these animals.
My oldest son has to always visit the earthquake exhibit, which is in the "power within" area of the museum, where there is a shop that is experiencing an earthquake. You are able to stand in the shop and experience to some degree what an earthquake would be like. The earthquake is one that actually happened in japan. He also loves to ride the escalator up through a sculpted earth; I have to take the lift with the buggy...grrr!
There is only one problem with this museum in that unfortunately you cant see it all in one day, but thats fine with us because it means we can always go again and again.
There are so many fantastic exhibits that I would not be able to list them all, but rest assured they are all great.
There is a coffee shop and restaurant available for refreshments, they are as you would expect slightly expensive, so we tend to opt for taking a picnic as there is a great picnic area in the basement with tables and chairs which have picture of butterflies and dinosaurs etc. In the picnic area is a small shop selling sandwiches and drinks and the like, but again are quite pricey, however it is nice to be able to have a hot drink with you picnic. We bought a tea and a coffee and I think it cost around £5.00 but cant quite remember exactly. The drinks were okay, not spectacular, but okay. The museum requires alot of walking and a cup of tea was very much needed by lunch time.
Next to the picnic area if an absolutely amazing hands on area, where kids(and adults) can use magnifying glasses and microscopes to examine a vast collection items...my son loved holding and measuring the skulls and holding a shark jaw. He thought this was brilliant. You may have to book this but if you arrive early enough you should be able to go straight in. There are members of staff available to answer questions and help children with their investigations. The museum is fantastic for children as the vast amount of galleries are hands on. There is also a little place in the minerals area, we found by mistake, where kids can examine rocks and get to use microscopes to learn more. It was in the earth science area. You can purchase maps for a pound which is reasonable.
There are many shops with lots of toys, books and souvenirs. Some of which are very reasonably priced. I have bought some pretty mineral rock for a few pounds, but obviously the larger and more elaborate samples can become hugely expensive. My son on the other hand has bought countless books and pencils all at quite reasonable prices. He did however spend his birthday money on a mug that cost £8.00 because it had a dinosaur on it and when you placed hot liquid in the cup the dinosaurs' skeleton appears. He was so pleased, and then smashed it when he arrived home. I have promised him a new one on the next visit. I just hope they still do them.
Entry is completely free to both the natural history museum and Darwin centre, which is great, and means I, can take the kids more often. There are often additional exhibits which have an additional minimal charge and if it's something my kids would be interested in I often opt to do this. We have been to several dinosaur exhibits; however I can't recall the name but it was moving dinosaurs which the kids thought were smashing. There is also the option of buying little bags of activities for the children to do whilst visiting the museum and are able to get that much more from the experience.
I used to buy guide books but have about three now so now tend not to, they also have children's guide books which have information in a simpler, easier to understand form. I'm also signed up to the newsletter via e-mail which might interest some of you, and have discovered that have sleep overs where you can explore the museum at night when it is closed and you get to sleep with "Dippy" in the main entrance, we have not tried this as my youngest is only two, but it's always worth a thought for the more adventurous among you.
Entry through the front or main entrance on Cromwell Street is via quite a few steps so I would recommend that in this case you use the much less ornate side entrance on Exhibition Road, which tends to be less busy and also has lift access up to the galleries. Your bags are searched on entry for security reasons which can be a bother when you have a picnic loaded onto a buggy, but not a huge deal. The majority of the museum is completely accessible with few exceptions in the older building. The museum has provided plenty of seating area in the form of benches around the museum which can be a blessing but as the day goes on it becomes difficult to find available ones.
The nearest underground station is South Kensington which is on the circle, Piccadilly and district lines. There is a relatively short sheltered walk to the museum and often there are entertainers scattered along the way which enhances what would be a rather dull walk. There are quite a few steps to exit the walk way which could cause problems for people with mobility issues. South Kensington also has no lift that I could find so it is steps and escalators to ground level.
There are buses to the area also the routes that stop near are 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414 and C1. The number 360 bus stops in Exhibition Road.
I would not recommend travelling by car as parking is a real problem and can become rather costly. The museum is also in the congestion zone so week days you are required to pay charges. I think the charge is £8.00 per day.
Opening is Monday to Sunday 10:00am - 17:50pm and is open every day except 24-26 December, but do be aware that last admission is at 17.30pm.
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5000
I would definitely recommend, for a great educational and fun day out for the whole family.
I am fascinated with history and feel at home in Museums, I am one of those people who you would guarantee to visit the local Museum when on holiday or for the sheer fun of a day out visit a Museum in another city, and this was one of those days. Mum and I went to London and visited a Museum: not just any run of the mill Museum but one of the largest Museums in Europe: The Natural History Museum.
Rather than bore you with the full details of my journey I will just briefly say Mum and I decided we would go for a day out to the nations capital on one of local train company special deals without any idea where we would visit it was a case of pot luck until we got there, so arriving in London we bought a travel guide, opened it up and picked a Museum at random. South Kensington was our destination. The Natural History Museum is located on the corner of Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road. The Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museums are close by with Knightsbridge's shops and the Royal Albert Hall within walking distance. An underground walkway from the tube station takes you directly to the Museums without having to negotiate traffic and roads.
Mounting the steps from the walkway we came out into a large garden with a building resembling an enormous cathedral at its centre surrounded by tall cast iron gates. The first thing you see in the garden when entering from the subway walkway is a fossilised tree trunk but behind is a wonder in itself. The Victorian-style, Romanesque building is one of the most striking buildings I have ever seen. Sitting down within the gardens for a snack, Mum and I gazed upon the fascinating architecture before our eyes. Buff-coloured, terracotta tiles interspersed with Victorian blue bricks patterned the walls, moulded flora and fauna terracotta tiles decorated the round-arched windows, along the eves of the roof perched pterodactyls and large, predatory cats and other animals instead of gargoyles. The outside is a plethora of decoration, symbolic of the building's function, a Museum of Natural History. When the Natural History Department of the British Museum grew too large to remain in its home in Bloomsbury the prominent palaeontologist Professor Richard Owen had a vision. The man who gave us the word 'Dinosaur' envisage a grand building with huge galleries designed and constructed purposely to house the largest and tallest of skeleton specimens. Taking 12 years to design and construct, the vision became reality and the new Museum opened its doors to the public in 1881.
Fortified, we entered through a set of recess arches and highly detailed, ornate columns, we walked into the huge Central Hall and came face to face with an enormous 26 metre long Diplodocus skeleton. This was the first time I had seen a full sized skeleton of a dinosaur and wow I was amazed as I gazed upon it in awe but that alone did not hold my gaze and I stared around in wonder. The huge glass windows high above allowed natural light to shine down into the Central Hall with its elaborate, grand staircase rising to second floor of galleries at the far end. This Hall and its galleries were a feast for the eyes as much as the buildings exterior, the same buff-coloured highly decorated terracotta material had been used throughout in the moulded panels displaying insects and fossils, foliage and plants. Climbing monkeys' cling to the corners of walls and niches, animals perch above columns of arches, doorways entwined with climbing snakes, a vast array of life line the walls with sculptures of plants and animals and above are the highly decorated and detailed painted ceilings. Emptied, the building alone would have been fascinating.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The building is split into three sections, the Wonders and Life Galleries and Central Hall the Earth Galleries Atrium and the state of the art Darwin Centre. You can take photographs and videos. TIP always ask if flash photography is allowed as in some Museums their exhibits can be damaged from light for camera flash. You can pick up a free map and information leaflet at the front desk and large print maps are also available on request. I didn't bother with looking at the map, Mum and I were happy to wander and discover things for ourselves however I did pick up a map and a brochure later as souvenirs. Throughout the entire Museum are information touch-screen computer guides in a variety of languages and monitors, charts and displays to help you find what you are looking for. There are hundreds of specimens, tools and casts where you can handle and interact with, for the hands-on approach and with staff near by to help. There are paid Museum Guided Tours available with Special Exhibitions and Events that change regularly. And for the student, course and field studies are available. Kids activity sheets, events for under 7s are available too with discovery guides and structured workshops sessions. You need to allow at least 4-5 hours to tour the exhibits. TIP Ensure you wear a stout or comfortable pair of shoes.
WONDERS AND LIFE GALLERIES
Mum and I centred our tour on the Life Galleries throwing a cursory look at the Earth Gallery due to our time available. Easily you need hours just to walk around the Life Gallery alone. They are split into dinosaurs, insects, mammals, primates, minerals and origin of species covering a good two thirds of the Museum. Beginning at the dinosaurs, we walked into a dimmed area to be met by a Camerasaurus skeleton with its blackened bones, opposite, an armoured Euoplocephalus still partially buried in sand and rock and over in the corner a full sized Triceratops all amazing and unbelievable with a small model beside each depicting what they looked like. Taking the lift up to the 70 metre long suspended walkway just feet below the elaborately painted ceiling (which can also be reached by stairs) we wandered along in gazing wonder from above, past a huge variety of fossilized skeletons and specimens hanging on wires from the ceiling: a Gallimimus, the bird like dinosaurs you see in Jurassic park which run in flocks across the ground to the Iguanodon, or the fearsome Deinoncheirus also known as Terrible Hand because of its claws. Each exhibit had an information plate bearing the name and the phonetic pronunciation of its name with details of its size and species. Every so often we came across and animatronics model which moved and made sounds the dinosaurs made as presumed by scientists. At the end of the walkway there was a ramp leading down to the ground floor past two sets of animatronics dinosaurs, a pair Velociraptors and a pair if Oviraptors hovering over a nest of hatching eggs.
Following the ramp round we saw TV screens and interactive touch-screen computer guides detailing the environment and ecology of the era in a twisting and turning labyrinth. On one wall were cartoons asking why was the dinosaur extinct. One of the images was a group of dinosaurs lying around and one with a bat in its hand tossing a ball. The title said BOREDOM and the speech balloon from the dinosaur said "Come on its only cricket." This creased me up with laughter as I to think cricket is a very boring game. Turning one corner we discovered a full sized, latex coated head of a T-Rex with its teeth coated in blood and its beady eyes glaring indolently. Hurrying through I had to ask Doyouthinkhesawus? Proceeding through specimens and photographs we moved towards the gallery shop and in a glass cabinet on the side was a small unidentified dinosaur. Looking closer you could see it was an animatronics model, breathing and twitching and every few moments its eye would flicker open. Almost alive I expected this model to sit up and move about but fortunately it did not.
If I thought the Dinosaur hall was amazing the Mammal Hall was awesome. I have never seen a collection of mammals as extensive as this as we travelled through the glass enclosed alcoves and display cabinets. We first saw a Giant Panda skeleton at the head of the collection leading into a hall with an assortment of bear specimens with a large polar bear, the tiny red bear and the good old grizzly followed by the predator cats including, lynx, puma, polecat, mountain lion all svelte and proud. We saw a specimen of the extinct Sabre Toothed lion and a beautiful African lion that strangely had a peculiarly worried look upon its face and I was surprised it was smaller than I had imagined. "Oh look a Kangaroo and Joey in its pouch, I thought they were larger than 3 foot," I commented to mum, "and over there, are Koala, aww aren't they cute?" There were pigs, wild boar, sheep, deer, goats and even a bison and gazelle, I had only seen these in pictures. I had become a child again full of excitement at each new animal we came across. Imagine me a thirty something acting like a 7 year old. "Oh now isn't he a beauty?" Mum said and I turned to see a magnificent specimen of a horse that looked so life-like I could imagine its breath on my face. Next came the other equine-like mammals including asses and donkeys much like the one on the beaches in the summer when I was a kid and then a zebra.
I was taking a look at the zebra when mum tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Take a look at this". I turned around and exclaimed in shock "OH MY GOD...." I could not believe what I saw before me. Imagine the scene in a movie where the character looks at something and there is a look of shock on their face before the camera pans around to show the vista before them, that is what it was like for me. It was the most gob smacking sight I had ever seen. The gallery was so large that it would hold the entire Central hall within it but dominating the exhibit was life-size model of a blue whale, suspended from the gallery ceiling, dwarfing even the largest of the modern mammals surrounding it. Dolphin and porpoise cavorted around its tail and hanging beside it were skeleton of other whales. Surrounding the whale were a collection of many world animals from rhinoceros, camels, Indian and African elephants, kudu, giraffes and a comical looking hippopotamus which a gleam in its eye and an expression right out of Disney's Fantasia. So many animals I could wander for hours without getting bored I felt I had seen something special. Up the stairs, was the Primates Gallery but by now our feet were hurting our backs ached we had to rest, so sitting back we gazed along the gallery at the skeletons of primates hanging from the ceiling and each other almost like swinging through the trees. Off we set again following the exhibit that explained their intelligence, communication and social behaviour and of the dangers they face. Only one thing was missing there wasn't a gorilla, it would have been nice to compare it to the one in Wollaton Hall Natural History Museum in Nottingham which I recall first seeing when I was a very small 5 year old and have seen many times since.
Creepy Crawlies section sent a shiver down my spine, insects, spiders, crustaceans and centipedes...Yuck they make my flesh crawl. There were ants, woodlice, bees, locusts and termites all gross looking even behind their glass screens. We hurried through these as I can imagine many others would. The gallery then opened out into the Crustaceans and Molluscs with Crabs and other shellfish, the Fish, Amphibians & Reptiles. This exhibit included fish that live so deep they provide their own light ranging to the everyday Pike which I commented was one of the ugliest looking fish I had seen. There were sharks, porcupine blowfish and hundreds of colourful sea creatures and at the back of one room was an 18-metre model of a giant squid, the largest animal without a backbone. In the Reptiles there were a 150-year-old giant tortoise specimen. Mum told me of a large tortoise she had as a child that looked rather like the specimen we were staring at and other reptiles like lizards and snakes, and iguanas, each interesting and just as ugly as that pike. There was Komodo dragon looking very much like a dinosaur, the alligators and crocodiles here you could clearly tell the difference between the two species, crocodiles have a wider fatter, snout and mouth. Bird's exhibit showed minute details of many different species including nesting habits and anatomy. There were parrots, hawks, sparrows, thrush, cockatoo and many other exotic birds I had never heard of before but one magnificent sight was the hummingbird cabinet filled with hundreds of specimens of the beautiful tiny birds and then finally the skeleton and a specimen of the now extinct Mauritius dodo which became extinct during the 17th century.
EARTH GALLERIES ATRIUM
Have you ever wondered how it all began or ever been in an earthquake? Have you ever wondered why rocks and minerals are important to us or why earthquakes happen? The Earth galleries answer these questions housing a number of collections revolving around the Earth its 'self. An enormous sculpture of the Earth dominates the heart of this section flanked by six impressive statues leading to an escalator taking you other galleries and floors. Among these floors you can discover how life on the planet millions of years ago have much in common with today's Earth comparing features like chromosomes, teeth and bones to man's closest living relatives and how ancient people made and used tools or learn how without minerals which life on Earth would be impossible.
An engraved steel timeline runs the length of the gallery covering 15000 million years of the life of the universe. Following the time rail you can discover how it all began, how the universe works and the origin of shooting stars and meteorites. The Museum is home of 10,000 -15,000 pieces meteorites that have been recovered from all over the world from huge craters in the Earth's surface after their fell through the atmosphere. There is an immense collection of over 3,000 minerals and gemstones and displays showing how scientists work in finding new ways to use these resources like silicon used in microchips or quartz which keeps time accurately.
The Museum also houses an earthquake simulator where you can feel what it is like to be in an earthquake or discover where there have been earthquakes in the last week. Moving on you discover what happens when a volcano erupts and its effect on the planet. You can even see replica casts of hardened ash of a man and dog that died in Pompeii when Versuvius erupted 1900 years ago.
THE DARWIN CENTRE
Is a Research building open to visitors with state of the art laboratories, storage facilities of the valuable collections and where over 350 scientists research and care for the not only the Museums 70 Million specimens of which 22 million zoological specimens stored in jars of spirit, including original specimens collections by Captain Cook and Charles Darwin but also do research to tackle a wide range of concerns in the world today. Daily there are talks and discussions and a free-guided tour is available for those who wish to discover the wonderful collections and behind the scenes of the Museums where you can watch the scientists at work.
THE FROZEN ARK
In conjunction with the Zoological Society with support from the Institute of Genetics at Nottingham University, the Natural History Museum announced today the launch of The Frozen Ark similar to the project to collect seeds from endangered plants run by Britain's Royal Botanical Gardens. What this means is scientists will collect and freeze at - 80 degrees Celsius the DNA from thousands endangered mammals, birds, insects and reptiles is to be preserved. Scientists expect 10,000 species of animals to disappear within the next 30 years although this will be an immense project priority is being given to animals in danger of extinction within the next five years and those like the white Bengal Tiger that are surviving only in captivity. The Tiger is one of 33 species are already extinct in the wild. Specimens will be collected from the wild, animal sanctuaries and zoos.
The first samples of the Socorro Dove native to one remote island; Socorro off the coast of Mexico, Arabian Oryx: an endangered desert antelope from Saharan Africa and yellow sea horse: endangered by hunting for Chinese medicine, were placed in deep freeze on Monday 26 July 2004.
This project has been launched to safeguard animal genetic code for the future in a unique repository but it is hoped it could help in conservation and genetic research and provide future scientists, biologists and conservationists a blueprint of animals that they can understand and study rather than ask themselves questions that take years of research to answer.
There are no current plans to use the DNA for cloning but the possibility in the future will exist to perhaps repopulate the planet of its animals The collection will be stored at the Natural History Museum and the Zoological Society with duplicate specimens stored in San Diego, California and Melbourne, Australia
During the 2004 Athens Olympics a new high-performance swimwear range was used by many athletes. This development is the result of 4 years intense study into shark skin by the Natural History museum. The new line developed by Speedo mimicked the skin of sharks increasing the swimmer's speed by reducing drag through water.
THE WILDLIFE GARDEN
Outside is the Museum's first living exhibition, hundreds of wild flowers, dragonflies flitting across the ponds and birds visiting or nesting in the garden, the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside in the heart of London. Also in the gardens are specimens of wild animals like elephants and rhinos.
FOOD AND DRINK
There are three restaurants and cafes and a snack bar and picnic area. High chairs are available in all restaurants
The picnic area is unusual as you can buy, sandwiches, drinks from vending machines or you can eat your own sandwiches here without being told off and not as busy as the cafes and restaurants it's opening times are 11.00-16.30 daily Globe Fast Food sell fast food snacks, tea, coffee and cakes and has an Ice cream parlour that opens during school holidays and weekends. It's opening times are 11.00-16.00 daily
Life Galleries Restaurant is a self-service family-style restaurant, with a choice of three hot main courses, with separate children's' menu and heating facilities available for baby food, and the Waterhouse Cafe focus on Speciality coffee and tea, both have a selection of sandwiches and cakes, cold drinks and are licensed to sell alcohol their opening times are 10.00-17.00.
BOOK AND GIFTS
The Museum has several book and gift shops offering a wide range of books, maps, models, mineral specimens, and many souvenir items, including jewellery and ceramics and children's toys. A colour Souvenir Guide costs £5.50 which is rather cheap compared to many other Museum guides and part of the cost go toward the up keep of the building and its contents. The shops are the Dinostore in the Dinosaur Gallery, the Gallery Gift Shop and the Gallery Bookshop first floor near the birds and insects, the British Geological Survey information office can be found just entering the Earth Galleries and the Earth Gallery Shop in the Earth Gallery main floor
OPENING TIMES AND FACILITIES
The Museum is open every day, including Sundays and bank holidays, but is closed 24-26 December the admission is free although there are donation boxes sited in numerous areas. The opening times are Monday-Saturday 10.00-17.50 Sunday 11.00-17.50 with the last admission is at 17.30. The Museum can get very busy at weekends so it is ideal to take a visit during the week as the crowds are not so bad however you might come across a few school parties and package holiday guided tours while you are there. The additional available facilities are disabled access via many ramps and lifts, cloakroom and baby changing rooms.
I tried to express how I felt touring this Museum I know I was wandering around in a state of awe and smiling like a schoolgirl. It is a place for the whole family, where adults and kids alike can learn something new. The whole Museum from the beautiful architecture to the wonderful and informative exhibits is truly the country's most remarkable Museum; you have to visit it to believe it. I would gladly return again and again to enjoy this wonder to the world Natural History.
Is this a dinosaur I see before me? You bet it is and more.
The Museum website http://www.nhm.ac.uk/
***This review is based on the museum AND the 'Age of the Dinosaurs' special exhibition.***
I have always visited the museum when I have been in London as it has become my favourite place in the world, it must have one the most famous facades in the world!
This time though it was for my son as I had bought tickets for the 'Age of the Dinosaurs' exhibit, it had cost £30.30 (with donation) for two adults and 1 child (my 8 y/o sister).
The museum is on Cromwell Road, Kensington and has two tube stations within walking distance (south Kensington and Gloucester rd) and is also on major bus routes so getting there is quite easy, we were coming in to London from St Albans, so got a train directly to Farringdon and then onto the circle tube line, although with it being extremely hot and with 3 children it wasn't as easy as I thought!
The museum itself is free (unless viewing special events) although you are asked to make a donation, and is open 364 days a year 10AM until 5:50PM. Upon going in your bags are also checked by members of staff.
As our tickets were pre booked we were able to be fast tracked which was brilliant as because it was August and it is the summer holidays the place was heaving and the queue's were out of the gates. The museum does get VERY busy so its best to go out of season which we tend to do.
Upon entering you a faced with a huge diplodocus this is quite possibly the most famous part of the museum and was in the film 'One of out Dinosaurs is missing'!! In the entrance hall you can also buy maps(£1), guide books(£5) and tickets etc, it also has the entrances to the shops and the 4 café's and some of the exhibits. The walls are covered in 'artefacts' and are a real thumbs up with the children. One thing I must say is that the architecture is AMAZING!!!!!
The museum is set out over 3 floors each jammed with artefacts, it would take well over a day to see it all!!. These are split into 4 groups the 'orange', 'blue' 'green' and 'red' zones, each of these containing different types of things for example the 'blue zone' contains so of the most popular exhibits such as the dinosaurs, mammals and the 'blue whale'. While the 'green zone' contains the bugs, primates and 'the tree'.
The website has descriptions of each zone as follows.......
'Discover the wonders of our planet with volcanoes, earthquakes and our giant Earth model.'
'Investigate Earth's ecology. Meet a dodo. Explore the magnificent Central Hall including Charles Darwin's statue and our new ceiling installation TREE. Learn about the meteorites that shaped this planet.'
'Experience the age of dinosaurs. Discover a world of massive mammals including the blue whale, and learn about the human body.'
'Explore the new Darwin Centre including the cocoon and Attenborough Studio. And don't miss our Wildlife Garden highlights.'
There are also learning rooms, theatre's and also faith rooms on site, there are also picnic spots dotted around the inside of the museum as well as the lawn's outside which in winter become skating rinks (great fun but expensive). There are also 3 shop's the main museum shop, the Dino shop and the Earth shop. Unlike the usual tourist aimed shop's I find the museum shop's very good money for value and a lot of things there are available to buy with 'pocket money', although I ended up spending the best part of £30!
Overall I find the museum brilliant and cannot recommend it enough!! It's great for children and adults alike, it's great value for money, and most importantly for me it is very educationally based so children are learning as they are having fun!!!
*** AGE OF THE DINOSAURS EXHIBIT***
As we were fast track ticket holders we made our way straight to the exhibit as the tickets were on a time schedule, thus avoiding all the queues.
The exhibition is running from the 22nd of April through to the 4th of September.
-Child and concession £6
These prices contain the donation , the exhibition is free to Members, Patrons and children aged 3 and under.
The website describes the exhibition as......
'Walk through a swamp-like Jurassic forest and Cretaceous desert, catching sight of weird, wonderful and now extinct animals and plants among the smells and sounds of this prehistoric land. Amazing life-size, animatronic dinosaurs including a Gallimimus, Protoceratops, Camarasaurus, Oviraptor, Velociraptor, and Tarbosaurus will emerge from the rocks, water and trees. Other animatronic surprises await you too.
Along the way, investigate precious fossils, handle specimen replicas and examine evidence to find out what the world looked like when dinosaurs walked on Earth.
Jaw-dropping images and film footage, with fantastic interactive challenges create an exciting, immersive experience like never before at the Museum.
This exhibition is for children and adults of all ages.'
You are first taken into a room with a huge interactive wall showing a timeline from the dinosaur age through to today, and also artefacts including a gigantic T-Rex footprint and the skull of another dinosaur. Walking through a walkway you are surrounded by fossil's and interactive play stations (these are suited to all ages) my son particularly enjoyed the one where you had to mix and match Dino parts. Going on you are then confronted with a huge dinosaur leg (from the hip bone) this is a great photo opportunity and my son just couldn't apprehend the size of it.
Then come's the exciting bit...... the 'real' dinosaurs!!
These each have their own area depicting a scene, the first is a huge (really!) Diplodocus munching on ferns which turns and looks and you! My 8 year old sister hated it until my 4 year old told her they were 'only plastic and paper duh!', even the birds are animatronic next through to a stegosaurus fighting with a velocraptor and another set of dinosaurs and then come's the penultimate moment the T-rex which is attacking a nest of eggs, (my son was more interested in the eggs then the dino) all the while there are sounds of the rainforest, dinosaurs and birds being played.
Coming out of that walk through you are taken through more fossil's including a tortoise shell and more interactive computers and games, I found these really good and the children found out lots of interesting little known facts about Dinosaurs such as about their poo(!) and also their habits. Meanwhile all the walls are covered in either murals or fossils.
The end of the exhibit leads onto the shop, which is of no great surprise.
I was quite disappointed at the end as because it was so busy with people pushing etc and having a 2 year old in a buggy we did feel very rushed and ended up completing the whole thing in around 10 mins which I found awful value for money although it was not the museums fault. I do believe they should have had a sort of 1 OUT 1 In system.
Based on this visit to the museum I have no other choice but to award it 5 stars, I think that although we were rushed etc it was a great exhibition and very child friendly! To me the museum is a no brainer its defiantly a 5 star, It is family friendly, educational and free! The shop's are purse friendly, and the building is just amazing.
I lived in London for a time as a kid, and I remember being taken here as a child on a few occasions, however I don't think I really appreciated this museum for all it holds until I went back as an adult and really took in properly everything that they have there, and all the work that's gone into the place.
Travelling to this museum is nice and straightforward if you're able to do so by bus or on the London underground. There are quite a few buses which come here, and the nearest tube station is South Kensington. If like me you come in by car, this is a bit of a pain to do and you need to note that you WILL be within the congestion zone. Car parking is limited, but there is disabled parking available - however, it's advisable to look on the museum website and google maps to see what you're dealing with I'd say as my husband who's not an experienced London driver did find it rather stressful driving here.
Getting into the museum is now free, and it's open from 10am till 5:30pm daily except for a few high days and holidays such as Christmas and the like. There are two entrances - one on Cromwell Road which is the main entrance, and a second on Exhibition Road. If you're a wheelchair user you'll probably find the Exhibition Road entrance the preferable one to use as it's free from steps unlike the main entrance. You are asked if you'd like to make a donation when you come in, and I have to say I personally like to do this as I feel it's very worthwhile paying a bit towards somewhere as impressive as this - after all, this museum holds the most comprehensive and impressive collection of natural history in the UK.
When you enter, there are maps available which you can take to help you plan your route around all the exhibits, and everything is colour coded so you can clearly tell which zone you're in. They do search bags when you go in - sad, but true, but I suppose it's not surprising really with the thousands of people who come here that they have to be careful today.
I suppose what I remembered from being a kid visiting here, was the big stuff... the giant skeletons of dinosaurs, and the life size model of a blue whale and other really big stuff like that. Going back as an adult you see so much more though. There are exhibitions here covering all aspects of life - animal and plant development, human history and pre-history, fossils, rocks and minerals, and much more.
The zones I mentioned on the map relate to how the museum is laid out and you have blue, red, green and orange.
This covers the animal kingdom - real stuffed, realistic models, skeletons, and even some animated creations of dinosaurs with sound and movement that show their power and domination. From sea to land and even air all types of animal life are covered here including human life and it's beginnings. There are loads of hands on things for kids (buttons to press so you can see a moving exhibit, or things to watch about how the human body works) and there is an excellent amount of facts given about everything so that although the younger kids can just enjoy the exhibits, us older folk can learn about what these creatures ate, how they lived, died, and so on.
This area is about the planet and its ecology. Rocks and minerals and even conservation information explaining how the destruction of the balance of nature affects us and how we can rectify things. This zone also covers birds and insects oddly, and there are quite a lot of different sections within the zone. The Vault (not there when I was a kid) was very interesting and there were some beautiful items in there - it's all about gemstones from diamonds, rubies and gold to quartz marble, copper, amazonite, blue john and more, and I honestly didn't know they came in so many colours! The display is fascinating, and some of the facts even more so.
The red zone is about the earth - how it works, and what it's made up from. There's an earthquake simulator here and lots more rocks and minerals too.
This bit is outdoors and is only open at certain times of year. It is well established pond and wildlife garden which shows a lot of really interesting things, however being in London it's not the calmest place in the world and the smell and sounds are still sadly very much 'London' and kind of distract from the tranquil beauty of the place.
Foodwise there's a restaurant, a café bar, and down in the basement tables where you can eat your own sandwiches, I don't recall this being so organised when we were children, and I'm sure we took sarnies and crisps and ate them sitting on the grass outside before wandering off to another museum to be honest. This isn't really so practical here now, and although we've had the odd cuppa or snack, the prices here are generally quite expensive.
The museum shop sells all the normal bits and pieces you'd expect - books, toys, novelty items like plastic dinosaurs and so on, as well all the things like mugs, badges, bookmarks and so on that you expect to find.
It would be impossible to tell of everything there is to see here, and to be fair, I think it's almost impossible to see everything there is to see even by spending the whole day here. There is just so much to take in and look at, that I'm always happy to re-visit this fab museum as I never seem to find I've seen everything.
The Natural History Museum is very easy to locate, it is across the road from the Victoria & Albert Museum and right next to the Science Museum.
From the outside, the building looks like a large church or cathedral, and upon walking into the main hall visitors are greeted with a staggering view of a Dippolodocus (Dinosaur!) within a spectacular cathedral-esque hall. This sets the theme for the entire museum, a splendid and eye opening sight awaits you at every turn!
The Natural History Museum is one of the best museums in Europe; there is such a wide range of objects and exhibits within the museum. For those interested in animals, there is a huge variety of animals within the museum from Panda Bears and Dodo's to Elephants, Hippo's and even a Blue Whale! There are separate sections for insects, birds, primates, mammals, marine invertebrates and fish, amphibians and reptiles amongst others. Visitors could indeed spend a whole day surrounded by beautiful and fascinating creatures from all over the world, however the museum has so much more to offer!
One of the museums most popular areas is the dinosaur exhibit - this houses pre-historic fossils, full dinosaur skeletons as well as moving animatronic dinosaurs such as baby raptors. The centrepiece of this fascinating exhibit is a life-size animatronic T-Rex, complete with movement and loud roars the T-Rex is fitted with a sensor that notices particular colours, so some visitors get an eerie sense that the beast is following them around the room! This section can get busy as it is obviously very attractive to children.
The Darwin centre offers visitors an opportunity to visit behind the scenes at the museum, and see some world class exhibits that are currently in storage! We did not get time to do this, however it does seem very interesting!
The 'Red Zone' is themed around the earth; its history, composition, global warming, earthquakes and rock formations, fossils and the future of the earth amongst other things. Those with an interest in geology will feel at home in this section, and anyone passing through the sculpture of the earth cannot help but be in awe of such a powerful looking object.
The above is just a number of the exhibits available and there is so much more - human evolution, human biology, ecology, tree and plant life and a wildlife garden amongst other things!
The museum opens at 10:00am and closes at 17:50pm, and those with a particular interest in the history of man, animals and the world in which we live may possibly wish to spend an entire day there, as that is the only way you would be able to see and fully appreciate the millions of objects!
My girlfriend did find it hard going after a while, so those with a bad back may wish to take into account the amount of breaks required to get all the way round such a huge museum. Seeing such a lot of items can be hugely tiring, and we were absolutely exhausted after visiting the Natural History Museum. Thankfully there are quite a lot of benches and places to sit dotted around the museum for those that wish to take a break!
There are also a lot of places to eat; from small, quick bite cafe's to a restaurant that would not look out of a place in a 4-5 star hotel! Obviously it depends on an individuals tastes and budget, however i did personally find the prices quite expensive! Then again, you are in London!
To sum up, the Natural History Museum is a superb attraction that would really need a full day to fully appreciate all of its splendour; however those with just a few hours like we had wont be disappointed! The fact that the museum is free makes it unmissable!
The Natural History Museum is definitely one of my favourite places- as it contains some of the most beautiful things you will ever see.
~~~LOCATION AND ACCESS~~~
The Natural History Museum is located in South Kensington, near the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) as well as the Science Museum, and can very easily be accessed via the South Kensington underground station which is on the Picadilly, District and Circle Line. The Museum is signposted so you can walk there from the station through the short subway.
The building is unmissable as it is so large and beautiful. The architecture is stunning, and so stoic.
Walking through the main entrance, you will be security checked for sharp objects etc, but once you walk past, you will be faced with a large diplodocus skeleton. Here, the museum is split into different zones- Orange, Blue and Green zones. The red zone can be accessed past the green zone.
There is also a side entrance to the museum which will have less visitors coming through this way, so may be quicker... and it leads directly into the Red Zone.
*Blue- Dinosaurs, Mammals, Human Biology
This is perhaps one of my favourite parts- especially the mammals section. It has almost every animal stuffed and on display, and you can really get up close and see the displays and be able to admire the wonderful variation of animals on Earth...
The Human Biology is interesting and interactive, and there is a giant embryo/zygote, but it doesn't interest me as much as the other exhibits.
The Dinosaur exhibit always attracts a large crowd, and the fossils they have as well as the skeletons are really impressive, and you can walk around and on a metal walkway which is cool. There is also a surprise at the end- - - so be sure to beat the crowd.
*Green- contains stuffed bird specimens, creepy crawlies, marine fossils, minerals etc.
I really like the birds section as well, because there are so many specimens, all so beautiful and really attractive. They also have on display different body parts of birds, features and compares size and shape etc. so it is quite educational if you have the time to read.
The creepy crawlies is good- their live ant farm is pretty cool! This is also quite an interactive exhibition, so I would highly recommend.
Along the corridor between these two exhibits is a whole display of marine fossils, which are impressive, but not very lively or interactive.
On the upper levels, which can be accessed via the grand staircase linked to the main hall, is an area on primates, and evolutionary ancestors etc. but at the top (where the good stuff is) is a room full of minerals, and at the end, the vault, housing some of the most amazing rocks you will ever see. The thing that is most impressive is the collection of diamonds called aurora, which "glow in the dark".
*Red- mainly geology, rocks and minerals, as well as geographical concepts such as weathering, wave power and other interactive points.
I really like the rocks section here, and taking the long escalator through the giant metal Earth- that's really cool. This part is also very interactive which is awesome :D
*Orange- Wildlife Garden, Darwin Centre
I've not actually been to the wildlife garden, although on the other side, the butterfly garden is awesome. Also, I've not managed to visit the new Darwin centre yet- but really hope to the next time!
Also, they have paid exhibitions- past exhibitions include Diamonds. They also have an annual wildlife photography exhibition, as well as the ice rink.
~~~STAFF AND FACILITIES~~~
Staff are really friendly and helpful- some are stationed by the exhibits, but some aren't there at all. The receptionists or info point people are also helpful and will guide you if you are lost.
They have many toilets dotted around the museum, as well as cafes and restaurants. They may be a bit pricey, and there is limited seating, so beat the lunch rush, and go before or after.
The Natural History Museum is truly a stunning place. The architecture itself is mesmerising, but what's kept inside is even more so. The large number of exhibits mean that you can spend a whole day here, and the things you will see, from beautiful diamonds to stuffed bird specimens- the museum covers a wide range of areas and topics- and by the end of the day, you will be amazed at what you saw and really see the beauty of the Earth- and hopefully have learnt something new as well.
Every time I go to the museum I see something new, and it amazes me. The best part is, it is free- so there's no reason why you shouldn't go!
Where history comes to life.
We recently took a trip to the Natural History Museum in London and had a really nice afternoon out. It is located on Cromwell Road, Exhibition Row with the nearest tube station being South Kensington. This is the area where the Victoria and Albert and Science Museum are located also. It's very easy to find once you come out of the tube as it is signposted very well.
The museum is free for everyone and is open from 10am to 5:50pm with the last admission being 5:30pm. I would say that an afternoon is definitely enough time to see all the exhibits as the museum is not that big but if you are the type who reads every little thing then you may need longer.
The first thing we saw and by far the most popular exhibition was the Dinosaur display. This was in fact the reason that made us decide to go to the museum because we had heard great things about the dinosaurs. I think every other visitor to the museum wanted to see this display too as it was the busiest part of the museum. There was a queue to get into that part of the museum. When we first joined it there was a sign telling us that it would take 45 minutes to get it but in reality it only took about 15 minutes so don't be put off by the time sign.
Now, I have to say that I was not entirely blown away by what I saw. I have been to museums in America where there are massive halls with huge big dinosaur models in and this are really stunning and give you the impression of just how big the dinosaurs were. I did not get this same effect from the Natural History museum as I felt all the models were packed quite closely together and did not have that same wow factor. You walked around a walkway upstairs looking at the dinosaurs from above and then came down a walkway where there was a mechanical dinosaur in a natural setting. Even though there was not the wow factor for me, the information given on the signs were very interesting and detailed and fun for kids to read too. At the end of the dinosaur exhibition there is a dino shop where you can buy all sort of dinosaur goodies!
After the dinosaurs we went to see the Mammals. They had quite a lot of stuffed animals ranging from horses to elephants and lions. There was also, hanging from the ceiling the make up of a blue whale where you realise just how massive the worlds largest mammal is.
The museum also has an area called The Cocoon which is basically a massive shell which houses real scientists who work there naming, analysing and preserving specimens, as well as atmospheric giant wall specimen displays, including lots of bugs and creepy crawlies and then films and high-tech installations. Here you can really interact with the history by using a free NaturePlus card which lets you collect highlights at Cocoon exhibits where you see scanners, and explore these later online. I would say this area is definitely for older children who are perhaps studying this at school and may not be as interesting for small children.
The museum also has galleries featuring minerals, primates, ecology and sections all about the Earth so really every part of our amazing world is covered in this museum.
There are various places to eat around the museum with a main restaurant and a few cafes. They have a great main store with some fabulous books on just about every subject you could imagine as well as cuddly toys, clothing, posters etc.
I have to say that the building itself is also a sight to see. It really is a beautiful old building with great ceilings. The museum has a vision which they list on their website as," Our vision is to advance our knowledge of the natural world, inspiring better care of our planet. Our mission is to maintain and develop our collections, and use them to promote the discovery, understanding, responsible use and enjoyment of the natural world."
The Natural History Museum is on Cromwell Road in London and near the South Kensington tube station. It is very easy to get to the museum whatever form of transport you use. The only thing I would say is don`t expect to park right outside as it is very busy and there is very little parking available and the museum is in the congestion charge zone!
The Natural History Museum is free to enter although you are encouraged to donate and I think there are some temporary exhibitions which you have to pay for. There are many places where you can donate throughout the museum. I have visited this museum many times and think it is probably the best overall museum in London compared to others like the Science Museum. I also think children would enjoy this museum more than most other ones.
The building is very impressive and an old massive one. It is really spectacular especially in the Great Hall with the giant dinosaur bones which is what I always remember the museum for. There is normally a large queue outside due to the museum popularity. Once you enter you have to have your bags checked for security purposes but this is only a short check that lasts probably less than thirty seconds.
The Museum has a wide variety of displays and exhibitions but is probably most famous for the dinosaurs. There is a mixture of display items here whether the massive moving dinosaur, a TV with information about dinosaurs or just some dinosaur bones. There is lots of information and it is always interesting to look at the strange names and compare the size of you compared to the dinosaur. Overall this is probably the most popular section and children always enjoy it too!
Another exhibition I remember is the massive blue whale which takes up a massive room. There is also a section about the Earth and volcanoes and earthquakes. You also go up a giant escalator here and through the Earth! Here there is a room where you are meant to experience an earthquake which is good fun.
There is also a good section on minerals and rocks and you get to look at all the different shiny gems and stones! This is also interesting and always worth a visit!
There are plenty of other interesting and informative displays around the museum and there is a lot to see and do. There are a few gift shops including a mineral one with lots of different stones and minerals and at the back there is a massive amethyst which costs thousands! There is also a dinosaur store and a general store but as with all these types of attractions everything is a bit overpriced but it is a good cause.
There are also lots of toilets and baby changing facilities. There are also restaurants and cafes and some others places to eat but I have not been in any of these so can`t comment how good they are.
The museum is open daily is between 10 am and nearly up to 18.00. The museum is closed for just a couple of days a year at Christmas times.
This is probably my favourite museum as it has such a great mix of things to do. You could spend ages in here and it is also free to enter. For a museum it also does well to keep young children entertained and interested through interactive displays and more.
I think everyone should visit here at least once as it a great attraction and you learn a lot and it is also free! There is something for everyone here and that is why everyone should visit.
Overall I think this is simply a fantastic museum to visit and you could go and visit for as long as you want to with anyone.
I always really enjoy this museum and would definitely recommend it to all!
This review may also appear on other sites under the names ns1209 and mariofan123.
Let me say straight away that the Natural History Museum in London is HUGE and therefore I cannot review it all here and do it justice. I shall review only the exhibits that I saw on my last visit and hope this gives you a taster of what the NHM has to offer.
The Natural History Museum is in Exhibition Road in South Kensington. If you go by tube, make sure you get the underpass from the tube station but read the signs carefully or you might end up goin under the road all the way to the Royal Albert Hall. The NHM is a big stone building with lots of creatures carved into it, just the exterior is a sight to behold. There is a set of stairs outside with a curving walkway either side that gives a rather imposing entrance to the museum.
Then you come to the main hallway with its famous dinosaur skeleton. On a busy day there are lots of people here, all trying to get a good photo. Behind the skeleton another vast staircase takes you up to some exhibits, and behind the staircase a cafe can be found. The museum is organised into three main zones, red, blue and green, and these are vertically grouped so that they are spread over several floors, rather than one zone on each floor. Each zone represents a different part of the natural world:
red = earth, and centres around volcanos and earthquakes
green = ecology
blue = dinosaurs and mammals, including the human body
There is also the orange zone which includes the new Darwin centre.
I spent most of my visit in the blue zone. I started in the mammals gallery and was most disappointed to discover that most of it was shut for renovations. When it opens later this month you will be able to see the lifesize replica of the blue whale and other interesting mammals.
So after this disappointment I moved to the dinosaur exhibit. This is nicely thought out as you have to travel over a metal walkway suspended over the exhibit floor. So you can see all the dinosaur skeletons and parts of skeletons they have hanging from the ceiling. It's all very Jurrasic Park, there are even some animatronic dinosaurs. The big draw is what's waiting for you at the end of the walkway. It's hidden from view but you can hear it long before you turn the corner to see it - a giant T-rex that swivels its head and roars. It's great, and kids stop and stare at it for ages. I just think it would be a little better if it moved it's foot occassionally - to at least give the illusion that it might jump out and eat you at any moment. The rest of dinosaur exhibit takes you along the ground to learn about how they moved, breed, hunted and how they may have become extinct.
Opposite dinosaurs is Human Body. This starts from conception and birth and takes you through the growing up process. Very informative for the children I was with, although they all got silly and giggly at the naked body parts. They enjoyed the memory and perception bits the best and there was plenty of things for them to do to keep them occupied.
The only other exhibit I ventured into was Creepy Crawlies in the Green Zone, but bugs do not interest me at all so I avoided looking as much as possible.
The shop is quite expensive, especially for children.
The nice thing about the Natural History Museum is that it is completely free and you could easily spend several days there. Next time I go back I would like to venture into the Red Zone.
The Natural History Museum is situated in Cromwell Road near to South Kensington tube in London.
The museum is next door to the Science Museum and accross the street from the Victoria & Albert Museum. The Royal Albert Hall is within easy walking distance as well, you should bear these in mind when planning your trip as you can easily fit all of them in should your time be limited.
Entry to the museum is totally free since 2001 (they do charge a small fee for certain exhibits and you can make a donation of £3 which is totally optional) and the museum opens every day of the year apart from three days during Christmas. Opening times are 10am until 5.30pm
Upon entry, any bags you may have will be searched so there may be a delay in getting inside. The first room you see is a beautiful hall in the centre of which is a display of a diplodocus skeleton. I believe this is a replica but it still gives a great wow factor to anybody visiting for the first time and this is where most people tend to congregate on entry so getting a decent picture can be difficult if the museum is busy.
I found the museum to be a lot larger than I'd thought, as the main hall branches of in 3 different directions or 'zones' as the Natural History Museum calls them on the map.
If you're visiting with Children they may get bored quickly so veer off to the left and visit the blue zone where the Dinosaur exhibitions are. At the end of the trail having taken in various Dinosaur bones there is a lifesize moving model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It's designed to follow movement so if you're in there with few other people you can get the erie feeling of being watched!
Other major exhibits include the Large Mammals Hall which has the skeletons of lots of different species, replica lifesize models and interactive exhibits but the highlight is the 70 year old blue whale model. The scale of the model is breathtaking but it looked as though it could do with a respray on my last visit.
One of my personal favourites was the Earth Galleries, the entrance to which is a massive hall with an escalator taking you up into a model earth. If you love the universe and how things in it were formed this is a great section, I particularly like the Kobe earthquake experience which replicates just how much the earth moves during a quake with you standing on a moving floor in a supermarket. I found the sound generated quite disturbing really.
In summary, you could easily spend a day here if this is your kind of thing. In my experience kids loved it but would get bored after a couple of hours which is why It's so great that the aforementioned attractions mentioned earlier in this review are so close by.
There is good access for the disabled (entry at the side) and plenty of toilets/baby nappy changing facilities and there are several places within the Museum to eat but these are ridiculously pricey.
One word of advice. There always seems to be a mobile hot dog vendor outside the Museum selling them for as little as a pound each. Avoid like the plague, not only are these stalls illegal they are totally unhygienic and you're likely to take away more than the memory of a pleasant visit should you buy from them.
The Natural History Museum is located on Cromwell Road in Kensington, London next to the Science Museum and the V & A. I have visited the museum several times as whenever friends or family come to stay it is always on their list of things to see.
* * * * Getting there * * * *
The nearest tube station is South Kensington. From the station there is a long underground walkway leading to the museums making it very easy to find. The museum opens from 10:00 until 17:50 every day except 24th-26th December. Last admission is at 17:30.
If possible I would recommend that you try to visit the museum during the week. At weekends and half term the queues are very long and inside the museum becomes overcrowded, during the week it is a much more enjoyable experience. Entry to the museum is free apart from entry to any special exhibitions for which you will need to buy a ticket. Around the museum there are large glass boxes for visitors to make a donation if they wish. At the entrance to the museum any bags that you have with you will be searched for security reasons. This basically involves a man shining a torch inside your bag.
* * * *The Galleries* * * *
I would advise arriving at the museum in the morning as it takes at least a day to get around due to it's gigantic size and the huge number of exhibits. I have been three or four times and I still havn't seen everything! Upon arrival in the impressive Central Hall you will find Dippy the dinosaur, a gigantic 26 metres diplodocus cast, towering above you. This is very impressive even if you are not particularly interested in dinosaurs.
After ogling at Dippy I suggest that the first thing that you do is pick up a free map. This will help you to navigate your way through the winding galleries and hopefully prevent you from missing any exhibits. The maps are usually found beside any of the large mounted wall maps or can be collected from any of the museums guides. I have always found the staff at the museum to be very friendly and helpful. The map is very clear and easy to follow. It is split into 4 main sections:
* The Red Zone - this section is all about our ever-changing planet. There is a huge escalator which takes you through a model of a planet. You can also learn about volcanoes and see displays of rare rocks, minerals and gemstones.
* The Blue Zone - this section teaches all about life on our planet. This is probably the busiest and most popular section of the museum. Here you can see huge dinosaur skeletons and a moving T-rex. There are also models of many different animals and a life size replica of a blue whale. In the human biology section you can listen to what a baby experiences in the womb. This section is very interactive and has many memory tests and optical illusions.
* The Green Zone - is all about environment and evolution. This section has lots of different fossils. This is also the home to the birds and creepy crawlies sections.
* The Orange Zone - this section is where the wildlife garden and Darwin Centre can be found. The Darwin Centre is the newest part of the museum which has just recently opened. Inside is the Cocoon experience, this is a free self guided tour past large wall displays and projections. Booking is required for the Cocoon experience, this can be done online. The wildlife garden is home to many creatures from dragonflies and moths to sheep and foxes.
My highlights of the museum are the dinosaur section and the human biology interactive section. Also worth a visit is The Vault, located in the Green Zone, this is a collection of the most rare and valuable gems and crystals. I have yet to fully explore the Red Zone, the Darwin Centre and the Wildlife Garden. The museum is so large that you could make several day visits and not have to look at the same thing twice.
* * * *Eating and Drinking* * * *
Within the museum there are two cafes, a restaurant and a snack bar and picnic area. The restaurant, which is in the Green Zone, is closed for refurbishment until Christmas 2009.
The Central Hall café can be found in the Blue Zone just off the Central Hall, selling hot and cold drinks as well as cakes and sandwiches. There are also healthy options such as salads and fruit available.
The Deli café serves a range of hot and cold dishes served with salad. Some of the food options may include salmon en croute, ploughman's lunch, marinated chicken and warm tarts. There are hot and cold drinks available as well as a choice of wines, beers and ciders.
The picnic area is full of benches and tables where you may sit if you have brought your own food along with you. In this area there is also a snack bar where you can buy cold drinks, sandwiches and fruit.
* * * *Gift Shop and other facilities* * * *
There are three shops in the museum, the Museum Shop, Dino Store and Earth Shop. The Museum Shop is the main shop where you can find books, large gifts and small souvenirs. The Dino Shop is at the exit of the Dinosaur Gallery and the Earth Shop can be found next to the Deli café.
There are toilets all around the museum so you shouldn't have to walk too far to find one. The main toilets on the ground floor have been recently refurbished and are very modern and clean.
* * * * Overall Experience* * * *
This is a great day out both for children and adults. There is plenty to see and do. With no entrance charge there is no reason not to go! The only downside is how busy it gets on weekends and school holidays but if you can avoid this then you should have an excellent stress free day!