The Natural History Museum in London is one of the city’s most fascinating museums. It contains over 80 million life and earth science specimens within its vast collection, making it a must-see for anyone visiting London.
- Visit with Hope the Blue Whale skeleton that measures 25m and weighs in at 4.5 tonnes!
- Spend time in the Darwin Centre and learn about Archie the giant squid; patrons are able to book special tours via the Spirit Collection Tours and see specimens such as Archie that are not usually available for public display.
- Explore the West Lawn Gardens, home to many different plants and insects, including a potential new species called Arocatus roeselii that was discovered in 2007.
What to see and do
Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? The museum gives visitors the opportunity to learn about these prehistoric creatures in an up-close and personal way! From skeletal replicas that give viewers an insight into how dinosaurs looked and how they lived during their time on earth, to multimedia quizzes and other interactive videos and activities, this exhibition is a must-see for everyone, not just dino fans! Learn about the fossils that led to the discovery of this animal species in the 1800s. Find out what caused their extinction, and find out more about the over 300 different types of dinos.
Learn about possible life on Mars by spending time in the Space exhibitions located within the museum. This area also has information on meteorites, and visitors can examine moon rocks and specimens that are older than our own solar system. Stargazers will love learning more about fireballs and other scientific phenomena that are visible in the skies above Great Britain. There are learning modules focused on interplanetary volcanoes, asteroids, and the images returned to Earth from the many rovers currently being used in space exploration.
Learn more about the many specimens of flora and fauna that exist in the United Kingdom, especially on the British Isles. The outdoor gardens housed at the Museum provide a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the natural world that surrounds us. From invasive species to new discoveries of plant and insect species, the museum is the perfect place to find out more about the species with which we share our planet. Children and adults alike can learn more about ways to help preserve nature in their own local areas.
Special Collections and Exhibitions
Due to the vast amount of specimens housed at the museum, )over 80 million!), it’s impossible for all of them to be on display at any one time. Because of this, the museum provides visitors with the opportunity to see parts of the collection that aren’t on display. Whether you opt for a Spirit Collection Tour or choose to remain in the main areas of the museum, you are in for a treat!
We recommend the 12 Highlights of the Treasures Gallery as a great overview of the museum’s collection. In fact, there are special exhibits for all of the institution’s main study areas, including botany, space, dinosaurs, reptiles, flowers and wildlife, and more!
There are special exhibitions that rotate throughout the yearly calendar, so it makes sense to visit the museum more times than once!
Did you know: (4 interesting facts!)
- The Museum was the centre point of a six-episode BBC documentary series created in 2010 entitled Museum of Life. This series let viewers into the fascinating world located at the Museum, including both the history of the institution along with fascinating behind the scenes footage and information.
- This museum is part of the three main museums that are located on Exhibition Road: the Natural History Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Science Museum.
- Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology, and Zoology are the five main collection areas encompassing over 80 million specimens all housed within the Museum!
- Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge is a patron of the institution which employs over 850 people.
- 1881 – the Natural History Museum broke off from the British Museum in 1963. The institution was built upon the collections of Sir Hans Sloane who sold his specimens to the British Government well below their market value. None of the original specimens exist today.
- 1881 to 1883 – the museum moves into its new building constructed by Alfred Waterhouse. The new structure is known for its use of terracotta tiles and its Romanesque style.
- 2002 – Phase One of the new Darwin Centre is opened to the public.
- 2017 – the replica dinosaur skeleton affectionately nicknamed “Dippy” is removed from the museum after being on display for 112 years.
- 2020 – a new, state-of-the-art multimedia centre named after popular conservationist Sir David Attenborough, the Attenborough Studio is underway.
Facilities and accessibility
The Natural History Museum is located in South Kensington and is accessible by both London Underground (South Kensington station) and the bus, utilizing the Victoria & Albert Museum or the Kensington Museums stops, both of which are wheelchair accessible by using the Museum Lane entrance on the north side of the building.
There are a number of different volunteer opportunities as well as educational opportunities for teachers to take back to their classrooms. Memberships are available at a number of different levels, most of which provide discounts on food and gift shop purchases. Members can also access the exclusive Anning Rooms which provide a quiet space for study and reflection.
The Natural History Museum is separated into four zones, each of which houses specimens relating to a central theme. There are a variety of food options at the five restaurants and cafes located within the museum, one in each of the zones.
The museum is available for rental for private events and weddings through the Events Team.
Visitors can also purchase a memento from their day at the general gift shop, the boutique, and the store dedicated to all things dinosaur! Many of the items available for sale at the museum are also available for purchase from the online shop.