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Natural History Museum at Tring (Hertsfordshire)

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6 Reviews

Akeman Street, Tring, Herts, HP23 6AP / Email tring-enquiries@nhm.ac.uk / Phone: 020 79426171 / Fax: 020 79426150.

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    6 Reviews
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      12.05.2011 18:47
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      Not bad for a morning or afternoon, but not a 'full' day event.

      Tring Museum is a fairly large museum for such a small town like Tring, but on the scale of large museums, it's fairly small. It has three floors, and is mostly full of animals that have been stuffed as well as mounted butterflies insects and moths, so if you aren't keen on this sort of thing, I'd suggest that this probably isn't the place for you.

      If however you can get over any feelings of distaste it is a great way to see many animals that have been preserved, some of which you're unlikely to see anywhere other than in a museum. The chap who set the place up - Walter Rothschild - was very specific about how things should be done and many of the animals were brought to his estate alive and cared for there till they died naturally. Then, they were stuffed and displayed in his museum. It sounds pretty grim when I say it this way, but I suppose it's fairly important to remember that this was done back when this was seen as a sensible and reasonable thing to do.

      The ground floor is mostly animals, lots of different sorts of monkeys, deer, antelopes, zebra and other creatures in glass cases. There's a decent amount of information given about each of them and some of what you can read is pretty interesting, but I didn't personally like this bit too much, I found it a little hard seeing so many animals all dead together like this, especially as many of them are ones I've seen in the wild.
      The second floor has a large number of sea creatures, and also some smaller cases with preserved insects and butterflies in them. There are also some skeletal displays here as well. This is the floor I found most interesting as most of the insects and butterflies and sea creatures weren't animals/insects I'd ever seen before, and also weren't ones I'm ever likely to get the chance to see either. I suppose in a sense this made it easier for me to cope with seeing them in a museum like this.

      The third floor was unfortunately unavailable to visitors at the time we visited as they were working on it, but I'm told that it would normally hold more similar creatures and I'm guessing would add an extra dimension to the museum and be just as interesting as the other floors.

      If you're disabled as I am, then access is a bit difficult as there is no lift in this museum so wheelchair access is to the ground floor only. I managed with my walking stick as they do have seats in various places so I could rest before moving on, but I did find it awkward a couple of times when there were groups of kids passing us as some of the walkways are a bit narrow for standing out of the way.

      Sadly there isn't a tea shop here which would have been nice as it would have allowed us to pause for a cuppa between floors. There is a gift shop, but to be honest it's pretty naff really which is a shame, and only really sold a few books, the odd mug and bookmark, and some plastic looking bits and bobs for kids.
      There is no charge to enter the museum, but you can offer a donation if you wish which we did as it is this funding which helps them to keep going.

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        06.05.2011 20:53
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        Good for Zoological History, you want South Ken for everything else :)

        ... said my two year old daughter when we took her to this museum. Having been to the Kensington branch of the Natural History museum, I was expecting something similar but on a smaller scale. At the one in London, there are more interactive displays, dinosaur skeletons, better layouts etc., but this museum seemed to be more of a macabre collection of stuffed animals all grouped together by species in large glass boxes. It was a little dingy in there, which can add to a two year old girl's imagination.

        They have a nice little courtyard in the middle (it was a nice warm sunny day) so we sat outside for a bit, where our little one (with what vocabulary she knew) said 'the bear is dead, I'm scared, I want the park' which, sadly was our cue to leave.

        It's in a nice, picturesque, location, tucked away deep in the North Herts countryside, in Tring. The free parking lured us initially (typical Londoners :) ) it was a pig to find as it's not properly signposted 'Natural History Museum' but as 'Zoology Museum'. The staff are kind, and helpful, though there's limited accessibility for disabled visitors (one lift recently installed last year, but it's not completely step-free). Our daughter is able-bodied, but the 12 large steps were a job, even for us and a buggy.

        Had I known it was Zoological History instead of Natural History, I might have used my day differently. this is probably more suitable for older children, but some interactive exhibits would not go amiss (along with a trip to Wickes or Ikea to buy some extra lights for indoors).

        To our toddler's delight, we got back in the car and took her to the park (Ivinghoe Beacon) then onto Whipsnade down the road :)

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        02.07.2010 12:50
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        Well worth a visit

        Tring National History Museum


        The Walter Rothschild building
        Akeman Street
        Tring
        Hertfordshire
        HP23 6AP

        Tring is a small village in Hertfordshire which to be honest I have never found that interesting as there is not much here though on one of the small streets you can find Tring National History Museum which is a much smaller version of the one found in London.

        There are six galleries within the museum, each with different exhibits for both old and young alike. Each gallery is quite small and nothing like the one found in London though there are some very interesting things to see. The first time we went here, though, we did miss a couple of galleries on first walk around as I found they were not signposted well. Even though it is a small museum, it is a little like a tight maze inside.

        The first gallery contains a mix of different stuffed animals from birds to the large polar bear in the entrance. There are a mass of Lions and Tigers which were the favourite of our little ones.

        The second gallery changes throughout the year as new exhibits come into the museum.

        The third gallery holds the most exhibits and is possibly my favourite one with a load of sea life such as crocodiles and a huge tiger shark which hangs from the ceiling and is quite scary in some lights! There are also drawers of insects which are a lot more interesting than they sound! This area can get quite crowded, though, so best time to come to this area is lunch time when the museum becomes a little quieter!

        Gallery four hosts many animals such as Zebras and deer and is usually the emptiest (at least when we have gone) of people and so you can have a good look around. This gallery leads on to the next gallery which is more of the same sort of animals which are mostly usual animals though there are some animals in which I hadn't heard of before and all with little plaques filled with interesting information.

        The final gallery holds another well mixed lot of animals from the usual domestic dog (though I wouldn't call some of these breeds usual!) to reptiles. I tend to walk around with my eyes closed at certain points near the reptiles as I have a phobia of them - even though I know they are no longer alive!

        Children have the option to go on the 'Gallery Trail' in which they are given an activity sheet to fill in as they explore the exhibits. This is great for older children though we have not yet completed this.

        There is also a small café which offers a small range of items from snacks to small dishes though this is rather expensive and it would probably be better to look at the local area where you will find a few small pub restaurants or even the café in Tesco!

        There is a small car park next to the museum though it can get quite crowded if there is a rush on. Luckily there never has been too many people when we have gone otherwise there is a lack of parking elsewhere.

        The best thing about the museum is that it is completely FREE!

        It takes about an hour or so to go around the museum and is well worth the visit.

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        11.06.2009 17:04
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        A little gem, hidden away in Hertfordshire

        Tucked away on a little street in the small village of Tring in Hertfordshire, is an amazingly atmospheric collection of galleries containing every type of stuffed animal that you can imagine. Visitors will wander through Victorian galleries, coming face to face with giant polar bears, huge lions, weird fish, birds in flight, sea creatures, giant tortoises, and much more. The sense of adventure is heightened by the maze-like galleries, the Victorian wooden stairs and the old fashioned display cabinets.

        Gallery 1 contains birds, large carnivores and primates. This is a very exciting way to start the visit, with a huge polar bear at the very entrance to the first gallery. Lions and gorillas stand majestically next to elephants as excited children look and point through the glass.

        Gallery 2 contains temporary exhibitions that change 3 times a year.

        Gallery 3 houses crocodiles, crustaceans, fish, insects, large mammals and marine invertebrates. This is the gallery that makes me shudder, both with horror and excitement. A huge tiger shark hangs from the ceiling and fantastic marine animals hang from the walls. The gallery also contains drawer of creepy crawlies that you can slide out and view. This is my favourite gallery, both in terms of design and content as it is located on a mezzaine gallery and has a very traditional and academic feel. Walking around the wooden mezzanine gallery is always a real thrill as you can look down onto the top of huge exhibits hanging from the ceiling, as well as sliding open the wooden drawers to look at the more tiny and bizarre exhibits such as the Mexican flea collection. With the magnifying glass provided, you can see that the tiny fleas are actually dressed in Mexican costume!

        I have never found Galleries 4 and 5 very exciting. Containing hooved animals such as zebras antelope, cattle, deer, goats, hippopotamuses, pigs and sheep, patience is usually running thin at this stage, and children and adults alike tend to pass through this gallery full of rather ordinary looking animals. The most notable exhibit for me was the tapir and the extinct quagga It is always more exciting to see an animal that has now become extinct - the quagga died in Amsterdam in 1883.

        Gallery 6 contains amphibians, bats, British mammals, domestic dogs, flightless birds, reptiles and small mammals. This gallery is always more popular than the hooved galleries, containing some lovely looking dogs as well as more unusual animals such as the duck-billed platypus.

        If you ask for a Gallery Trail when you go in, the staff will give children an activity sheet and a pencil which makes the trip even more fun. Running around spotting animals and ticking them off the list is a good way of engaging their interest, and is completely safe.

        The museum used to be called the Walter Rothschild Museum. Lord Rothschild was born in 1868 into an international financial dynasty and was passionate about natural history and wanted to open a museum from a very young age. His passion for natural history combined with his personal fortune enabled him to amass one of the largest and most impressive collections in the world. His enthusiasm and love of the museum is what still makes is special today. The Rothschild Room tries to give visitors a sense of this history; set out like a Victorian office, it recreates the surroundings the Museum's original curators, and Lord Rothschild himself, may have worked in. This gives visitors a real sense of the history of the building and the passionate man that created the collection.

        Education and research are an important part of this museum. Educational workshops and activity days are run very regularly, and certain restricted access areas of the museum are valued highly by researchers and academics. The Discovery Room provides a bit of Science Museum type education for kids, with mystery boxes containing fossils and sponges, and lots of books and games around natural history.

        In addition to the galleries, there is a nice selection of places to eat, ranging from a deli café with lots of luxurious and tasty options, to a traditional cafe, serving cakes, tea and coffee. There is also a newly opened restaurant which has beautiful surroundings. The usual museum shop has a selection of memorabilia.

        Entry to the museum is free.

        Natural History Museum at Tring
        The Walter Rothschild building
        Akeman Street
        Tring
        Hertfordshire
        HP23 6AP
        Tel +44 (0)20 7942 6171

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          23.10.2001 21:35
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          Since moving to Hertfordshire and hearing about Tring Museum I had always intended to pay a visit. A few weeks ago I finally made the journey. Well, I've only been here two and a half years! However, it's not really called Tring Museum - it's proper name is 'The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum' It is now part of the Natural History Museum, but was started by one man, Walter Rothschild, in 1889. Walter was given the land and the money to build the museum as a 21st birthday present from his dad. Before he died, Walter left the entire museum and his collections to the trustees of the British Museum, so long as they kept it a zoological research centre. When he first built the museum, Walter also kept live animals in the ground, including animals such as zebras, kangaroos, kiwi and giant tortoises. The majority of the specimens in the museum are real animal skins which were stuffed (for want of a better word) in Victorian times, making most of them almost a century old. Thinking about this when you walk around you realise the skill and time which was involved in putting together the collection. What's there ? Gallery One is full of glass cases containing magnificent animals to tiny birds. The birds are in the cases around the edge of the room, with the other animals in the middle. Other animals including primates, wild cats, bears, foxes etc. You can look a tiger in the eye from just a few inches away and get close enough to the brown bear to see how it could kill with just one swipe? While I am not a big fan of birds, the huge number of them in the one room was fantastic. There were large ones, small ones, dull ones, brightly coloured ones, plain ones and fancy ones. They even have a dodo. Well, they have a dodo skin. It isn't on display but they have a replica model of a dodo. The dodo is in the extinct and threatened species cabinet, alongside 23 other specimens. When you leave Gallery O
          ne and head up the stairs to the other galleries, you find yourself walking under a massive American moose mounted on the wall. Living in England it's easy to forget just how massive some animals can get. Gallery Two is set in Walter Rothschild's study. On the wall is a family tree of the Rothschild family alongside a brief biography of Walter himself and the history of the museum. Bizarrely there is also a pair of African bull elephant tusks which form a sort of arch in the corner of the room. I have to admit that if I had to work in an office with bits of dead animals I wouldn't like it very much, but I guess each to their own! Gallery Three houses sea life specimens in the glass cases around the edge of the room, with larger animals such as camels, elephants, rhinos and giraffes in the middle. Also in the middle is a giant sloth. I don't know about you but when I think of a sloth I always think of a monkey sized animal hanging upside down and moving slowly along the branch of a tree. Well, the giant sloth is huge. Gigantic! It must be well over ten foot tall, leaning with it's front paws at the top of a tree trunk. Around the edge of the middle display are cases containing yukky things like spiders and various other bugs. Luckily these were in glass cases with wooden doors, so I only took a peek in a few! However, my favourite thing in this room was the giant armadillo. Crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle! Gallery Four is where you can find the 'odd hoofed mammals' such as horses, zebras, asses, rhinos and tapirs. Walter kept live zebras in his grounds when he was alive and was known to have harnessed them to a carriage at times to drive him around the grounds. Gallery Five is a magnificent room full of examples of deer and antelope alongside deals and dolphins. On top of one of the cabinets is a massive bull elephant seal. Easy to miss, but awesome once you spot it. Gallery Six
          is the final room and contains what seems to not fit in anywhere else. Amphibians, British mammals, flightless birds, marsupials, rodents, snakes, turtles and dogs. Yes, dogs. I have to say here that this display was probably my least favourite in the whole museum. Even worse than the bugs. I think it was probably because dogs are everyday animals rather than something out of the ordinary. And the African hairless dog no doubt looks as disgusting alive as dead. Sorry. The Rothschild Room holds temporary exhibits and is used for special occasions. When I visited the exhibit was entitled 'The Bizarre, Beautiful and Rare' and it certainly was! Included in here were items such as a deformed jaw of a sperm whale (much more fascinating than it sounds!), a Goliath Frog (the largest in the world, growing up to 40cm in length) and fleas dressed as a bride and groom (these fleas are over 90 years old!) Absolutely fascinating. However this exhibit finished on October 14th. At the moment and for the next few weeks (20 Oct to 9 Dec) the exhibit is entitled 'Animals in Arcady' which is somehow incorporating the specimens into a display about Aesop's fables. The Discovery Centre is a hands on experience room with feely boxes and mirrors (yes, my husband and I stood in front of them rolling our tongues!) as well as height and weight comparison charts and activity sheets for the kids. Luckily when we went we were the only ones in the room so could try everything out. If you think you may be embarrassed, take some kids along and enjoy it with them instead! The Museum Shop is where you end up and can spend your money on books, gifts and souvenirs. Pricewise the items seemed to be quite reasonable. They also offer an ordering service for specialist natural history publications. The Zebra Café is located on the side of the museum and can be entered (as can the shop) without having to buy a ticket for the museum. Cold snacks are a
          vailable as well as hot and cold drinks. There is plenty of seating inside the café with the option of sitting outside in the picnic area if the weather is good. Because entry is free to the under 16s, Tring Museum is a popular destination for school trips. Offered to school parties are free handling sessions, activity sheets, tours and a secluded area where the children can congregate. During the school holidays the museum sets up themed trails for visiting children. Not sure exactly what this entails but sounds like a lot of fun. As well as all the specimens on display, Tring Museum own thousands more exhibits not open to the general public. Prior arrangement is need to view any of these and you need to be viewing them for research reasons. This includes over 2 million skin, skeleton, egg and nest specimens. They also have Darwin's finch specimens and that Dodo skin I mentioned earlier. The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum has its own web site which contains a lot of information. It's easy to navigate around and gives up to the minutes information on current events happening at the museum. It has a 'Highlights' page which gives the museum staff's current top five exhibits, as well as a Virtual Exhibit which is a two headed sheep skull which you can rotate by waving your mouse over it. I have to admit here that I couldn't get that page to work very well, but the rest of the site is excellent. There is a link to the official web site at the top of this page?. I would totally recommend anyone to visit this museum. You will see things you have never seen before and will never see again. The only criticism I would make is the lack of labels on some of the displays. As far as I can remember everything has a label telling you what it is, but several have no more than that. Still, if there was lots of info I would probably say that was a bad idea too! I imagine children would be as awed as I was if you took
          them. I shall be heading back there for sure. From the History page of the web site I would like to finish with this: "By the time Lord Rothschild died, his collection included some 2,000 mounted mammals and a similar number of mounted birds, along with 2 million butterflies and moths, 300,000 bird skins, 144 giant tortoises, 200,000 birds eggs and 30,000 relevant books." Wow! General Info: ** Opening Times: Monday to Saturday 10:00 - 17:00 Sunday 14:00 - 17:00 (Closed December 24, 25, 26) ** Admission (at time of writing): Children 0 - 16 FREE (Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult at all times) Adults - £3.75 Concessions - £2.10 Over 60 - FREE ** Access Wheelchair access is limited to the Ground Floor (Gallery 1, shop and café) ** Address The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum Akeman Street Tring Hertfordshire HP23 6AP ** Telephone General - 0207 942 6171 Shop - 0207 942 6164 Education Officer - 0207 942 6175

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            01.09.2001 01:47
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            Okay if you live in the South of France then maybe you can rely on the sun shinning but not in leafy Hertfordshire nor any other part of Britain for that mater. So places that are not weather dependent for a good time are, I feel, always good to hear about. Many years ago when my own children were still young I discovered a fantastic place to visit whatever the weather, with kids or without it’s equally good. It won’t break the bank and is worth more than one trip without boredom setting in. “It’s too good to be true” I hear you cry, but no it isn’t. The Walter Rothschild Museum more popularly known as Tring museum is a part of The Natural History Museum in London. It is a very friendly place to visit and situated in a small town with free parking provided is hassle free too. A little background history for you. Walter Rothschild was always interested in animals from an exceptionally early age and had decided by the age of seven that he wanted to open his own museum. I’m sorry but I have to go off on a bit of a tangent and just ask how many of you knew at such an age what you wanted to do with a major part of your life? For that matter how many of you know yet? I reckon he was a rare kind of kid don’t you? Okay back to history. He collected animals both stuffed and alive and had quite a zoo as well as a museum the web site tell you more about this). In 1937 it became a part of the natural History Museum but fortunately remained in Tring. It gives people the benefit of viewing amazing things without the hassle of fighting their way around London. The museum is laid out in galleries with a large collection of stuffed animals (look I’m veggie and even I cope, I think because they are all from such a long time ago) and also models of those that were not available to collect. There are literally animals from the sublime to the ridiculous, from dressed fleas to elephants and wh
            ales. Collections of fish, horses, deer and more beside. There is a large display of birds’ eggs and also of insects, I must admit I don’t linger long around the scorpions, spiders etc! As I said at the beginning this really is suitable for all ages from adults down to little toddlers. Everything is safely tucked away behind glass so parents don’t have to be too paranoid if their children are running around close to displays, it is safe. Now if you go there with your boisterous family and it all goes pair shaped please don’t lay the blame at my door! One group I nearly forgot to mention is the artists among you. I have never been there without seeing at least a couple of people deeply concentrating as they sketch something they would otherwise view from afar. Now as one with no artistic talents at all (and there is no modesty I promise you) this always looks great fun and certainly adds another dimension to the place. There is a discovery room where things are very much hands on, with feely boxes, microscopes etc. Also as you go in there are usually worksheets that children can do and sometimes competitions. There is the customary souvenir shop that sells a good selection of small gifts including the more unusual, old fossils (ideal for your mother-in-law for Christmas), polished stones etc. I did have one embarrassing time when a small boy that I was fostering at the time stole his own souvenir, when I discovered this I took him back to say sorry and pay for it. I was by far the most embarrassed person in Tring that morning. The Zebra Café is open every day and serves, coffee, light lunches and afternoon teas, they even have a play corner for young children who may get bored while you have you tea and scones! There is also picnic areas so you can be flexible and bring your own nosh. This is also a great place for school (or similar) trips which are free and they even provide a place to eat packed
            lunches. If you are a serious zoologist you may like to know that the museum houses some very large collections, skeletons, skins and more, that are not generally open to the public but can be viewed by prior appointment. Special events held here include the start of the tour of the Wildlife Photographer of the year competition for 2002. This is being displayed at Tring from 15th December 2001 until 20th January 2002. There is a free mailing list which keeps you up to date on other things going on. My sons and daughter all loved our visits to Tring museum and now my foster children do too. They enjoy seeing the animals at close range and also having the freedom to wander up and down without the need to be held onto for fear of losing sight of them. Tring Museum is open seven days a week: Mon-Sat 10am to 5pm Sunday 2 to 5pm Admission charges: Adults £3.75…..)free after 4pm (4.30 on Sundays) Concessions £2.10 ) Children up to 16 and people over 60 free I’ll say that again up 16 and over 60 free, now you don’t get that too often do you? Seasons ticket and family tickets are also avilable. I think we well go again many times, so maybe I will bump into some Dooyooers discovering it for yourselves!

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