Before last Thursday I had never been to one of the museums in London despite having grown up about an hour away on the train (I know, shame on me!). My dad said he was taking my sisters to The Natural History Museum and asked if I want to come with (I don’t live with them, it’s a long story.), so I figured why not? And the most popular of London’s museums is a pretty good one to start with!
This museum, like every museum in London, is free (woo) but there’s always going to be huge queues so there is an option to become a member, which not only let’s you skip the queue but it gets you into exclusive member only exhibitions. If you’re not a fan of waiting around, and want to visit more than once, then maybe it’s worth having a look at getting one of these passes.
On the outside the museum is an absolutely stunning building- old stone, rounded windows, arched doorways. It perfectly represents old London. Once inside, the museum is separated into colour coded floors which each house a differed area of history- red zone is the earth and human evolution, green zone is birds/creepy crawlers/fossils, blue zone is dinosaurs and so on.
The red zone is all about the earth from the beginning and human evolution. It was also my fave zone, possibly because the human evolution bit appealed to the psychology grad in me, and the earthquake/volcano section reminded me of how obsessed I am with volcanoes and earthquakes (seriously, there aren’t enough documentaries out there for me!)
The red zone starts on the ground floor where you get to see skeletons and skulls etc and learn about the evolution of man. It then carries on on the first floor, and, to get to this section, you can take a steep escalator which takes you through the centre of the earth (but it’s not actually hot like I was expecting it to be. It remains a pretty boring room temperature in the middle. Boo).
At the top of the escalator is the volcano/earthquake section *excited squeal*. Here you can learn about how earthquakes happen, some of the worst volcano eruptions, and how they are both monitored. There’s even an earthquake simulator which aims to give you a feel of what one of the worst earthquakes in Japan was like. You stand in a mock up of a Japanese store and watch real cctv footage- well, until the TVs and the lights cut out that is. I mean, to feel the same motions you can just go and stand on the tube, but you do get a feel of how horrendous being caught up in a strong earthquake would be.
Did you know: Mount Versuvius in Italy is still active and the city of Naples is built around it.
This zone is about Darwin and Wildlife, but we didn’t spend much time here because it was at the end and we had two tired hungry kids, so I can’t tell you much about this section. All I know is Darwin sounded quite appealing to the scientist in me, but wildlife sounded a bit meh.
Dinosaurs aka the set from Night At The Museum. This section is pretty awesome because dinosaurs are awesome. It’s also more interactive and probably the most fun for kids; my youngest sister loved the very lifelike T-Rex.
This section is, not surprisingly, the busiest and they have notices telling you to come back outside of the busiest times. To get the best out of it visit this section first or last. In here you get to learn about different types of dinosaurs, how big they were, what they ate, where they lived (Australia and Canada mostly), and how they came to be extinct- although, of course, nobody knows for sure, they think it’s a mixture of a number of factors.
Did you know: there were a surprising number of vegetarian (herbivore) dinosaurs, and they seemed to be slower and more practical than their carnivore counterparts.
This zone is a mix of birds and creepy crawlies, and rocks and fossils. I’m not going to lie, we bypassed the creepy crawlies section! The birds, however, we didn’t pass but I wish we had done. This section is basically lots of dead, stuffed birds in glass cages and as I’m a vegetarian/part-time vegan, I did not find this appealing. Not cool, NHM, not cool.
The fossils and rocks was great though. There’s lots of different types of rocks which you can spend hours running your hands over and learning about. They even have a vault in which they keep ‘some of nature’s most unique and valuable treasures.’ These treasures include a crystallised Australian gold nugget, one of the biggest and most colourful emeralds ever found, and the infamous cursed amethyst. Pretty cool.
The museum closes at around 6 but the restaurant closes earlier than that so be prepared for that. We weren’t and we ended up being very hungry by the end of the day. Luckily this is central London so there’s never to far to walk to a McDonald’s or something. We strolled down towards Brompton street where there’s a McDonald’s a few doors down from Harrods. Of course we popped into Harrods too- being that close it would have been rude not to. Then we had a lovely early evening walk through town, past the shops frequented by the super rich, past the back of Buckingham Palace, towards Victoria.
I do love London. There’s really is no place like it.
Has anyone ever been to the Natural History Museum? What did you think? What was your favourite part?