Natural History Museum Updated: 4 months ago

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The Natural History Museum is one of London's most popular museums. It houses a collection of over 80 million items related to natural history.

The museum is in South Kensington alongside Science and Victoria and Albert Museums. London has numerous world-famous attractions, and the Natural History Museum is undoubtedly at the forefront. It has an extensive collection of over 80 million items related to natural history, making it the world’s most important natural history collection.

History

The origins of the museum’s collection are based on the collection of Sir Hans Sloan (1660-1753), a doctor and a collector who, in his will, allowed the government to purchase his collection well below market value.

The current building in South Kensington was architected by Francis Fowke, who won a competition to design the museum in 1864. After he passed away, Alfred Waterhouse modified the designs to be Romanesque and more suitable for London’s weather.

The new Natural History Museum building opened its doors in 1881, although its origins trace back to the mid-18th century. Originally part of the British Museum, it gained independence due to its expansive collection and was officially renamed the Natural History Museum in 1992.

Highlights and Exhibits

The magnificent museum takes the whole block along Cromwell Road. It is instantly recognisable with its two central towers and the beautiful facade. The main entrance is in the centre of the building below the towers.

There are several exhibits in the museum from different areas of natural history. When entering the museum from the main entrance, you’ll reach the magnificent Hintze Hall, featuring a 25.2 m blue whale suspended from the ceiling.

The museum has several zones, each concentrating on specific themes.

Blue Zone

In the blue zone, the museum’s legendary dinosaur exhibit features many skeletons and fossils that transport you back to the prehistoric era.

There is also an extensive collection of mammals, for example, polar bears, and a collection of fish, amphibians and reptiles.

Green Zone

The Green Zone includes the Hintze Hall mentioned above. There is also a bird section, including an extinct dodo bird, and a section for creepy crawlies with insects, crabs and spiders.

Red Zone

Red Zone is about Earth and the forces shaping it, i.e. volcanoes and earthquakes, together with minerals and gemstones. There’s an area devoted to human evolution where you can delve into our ancestral past and learn about the evolution of Homo sapiens through fascinating artefacts.

Orange Zone

The orange zone has the Zoology spirit building, with over 20 million specimens stored in alcohol. There’s also The Cocoon, where you can explore science and nature and meet experts.

Tips for Visitors

The museum offers free entry to its main collection, although some special exhibitions may charge a fee. It’s easily accessible via the London Underground, with South Kensington being the nearest station. One of the station exits leads directly to the museum.

There is also a cafe with food and hot and cold drinks and a shop for souvenirs and nature-inspired gifts.

Events and Workshops

Regularly hosting workshops, family events, and temporary exhibitions, there’s always something new to discover. Check the museum’s calendar for up-to-date information on upcoming events.

Virtual tours

Natural History Museum offers several types of content that can be enjoyed from the safety of your home. Sir David Attenborough is your guide around Hintze Hall in a series of audio guides available here. There’s also a virtual tour available in the form of Google Arts & Culture collection showing over 300 000 items from the museum’s collection.

Getting there

The South Kensington underground station is about 5 minutes away, and Gloucester Road underground station is about 10 minutes away by foot.

Nearby

Both the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum are neighbouring the Natural History Museum. Harrods is also roughly 10 minutes away.

Nearest Stations

South Kensington - 7 min

District Piccadilly Circle London Underground Zone: 1

Gloucester Road - 7 min

District Piccadilly Circle London Underground Zone: 1

High Street Kensington - 15 min

District Circle London Underground Zone: 1

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