Weather :

Timings : 10:00 AM - 5:50 PM (last entry at 5:00 PM)

Time Required : 2-3 hours

Entry Fee : Free

Natural History Museum, London Overview

The Natural History Museum, located in South Kensington, is a world-famous museum that houses approximately 80 million life and earth science specimens within five prime collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology, and zoology. It welcomes more than 5 million visitors each year.

The Natural History Museum, formerly known as British Museum (Natural History), is one of the 3 major museums in South Kensington along with the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media, & Sport, and has a vision to foster knowledge of the natural world by promoting the discovery, understanding, responsible use, and enjoyment of the natural world through the varied exciting exhibits that it treasures.

From fossils and moon rocks to exotic plants, to skeletons, there’s no end to what you can come across this museum.

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Key Highlights

The Museum has 3 entrances:

  • Cromwell Road- Access at the corner of Exhibition Road is open and has step-free access. Closest Tube station: South Kensington;
  • Exhibition Road is open and has step-free access. Closest Tube station: South Kensington;
  • Queen's Gate may be open during busy periods such as holidays and half-term. Closest Tube station: Gloucester Road.
The museum is divided into four coloured zones, each focusing on a specific topic or subject:

- Green Zone: Focuses on birds, insects, fossils, and minerals;
- Red Zone: Focuses on Earth, the planets, and the universe (like the evolution of humans, volcanoes and earthquakes);
- Blue Zone: Focuses on dinosaurs, amphibians, mammals, reptiles, and marine invertebrates;
- Orange Zone: Has a vast Darwin Centre located in this zone which focuses on taxonomy, showcasing 28 million insects and six million plants. Also a Wildlife Garden (which is only open between April and November).

You need not worry about missing anything important because you can follow the “Museum Trails” and can do your self-guided tour through any of the four museums.

It is a good idea to download the Visitor App of the Natural History Museum before visiting to find out information about the many exhibitions and events taking place in the museum during your visit.

Attractions

  • Dippy the Diplodocus skeleton;
  • The first T. Rex fossil ever discovered;
  • The Wold Cottage meteorite (which is 4.6 billion years old – thus characterized as the oldest item in the museum);
  • An archaeopteryx fossil (which is the most valuable fossil in the museum's collection);
  • A 14,700-year-old cup made from a human skull (which was found in Somerset);
  • The largest gold nugget in the world (which weighs 27.4 kg, and is worth around $1.5 million);
  • The 1st edition of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species;
  • The Pompeii casts of a man and dog (dating back to the Vesuvius volcano eruption near Naples in 79 AD);
  • The Aurora Collection (consisting of nearly 300 different coloured diamonds);
  • An earthquake simulator in the Earthquake Room (where visitors can step onto a platform in a “supermarket” and feel the room shake, just the way it would feel during a real earthquake. This essentially is an interactive experience aiming to unravel the reasons why volcanoes and earthquakes occur);
  • Each year the museum also features regular exhibitions such as “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” with its show-stopping images and “Sensational Butterflies”, a tunnel tent that has hundreds of the colourful flying insects such as butterflies and moths which has become a summer favourite.

Fun Facts

- Considering the age of the institution, many of the collections are associated with a great historical as well as scientific value, such as those collected by James Cook from his journey to the Pacific and of Charles Darwin from his’ on HMS Beagle;

- The museum also has a library that carries an extensive collection of books, journals, manuscripts, and artwork collections, all chiefly linked to the work and research of the scientific departments (Access to the library by appointment only);

- Star specimens such as Hope – the 25-metre blue whale that plunges from the ceiling of Hintze Hall, a rock as old as the solar system, and one of the UK’s most complete dinosaurs contribute to its strikingly picturesque appearance;

- You can also enjoy exciting after-hours event programmes featuring early morning yoga sessions, silent discos, live crime scenes, movie nights, and dinosaur sleepovers;

- There is always something for everyone who pays a visit such as regular family exhibitions, plenty of interactive activities and action-packed school holiday programmes;

- A visit to the museum during the evening hours is worth the shot as the building and hallways are especially beautiful when lit up at night;

- In case you’re interested in becoming a member of the Natural History Museum, you are able to get priority access to the dinosaur gallery. Adding to that, you can grab guest passes for your family and friends;

- One of the best tour options available focuses on Darwin Centre's Zoology building. The Behind-the-Scenes Spirit Collection Tour lets you explore the building's nearly 17 miles of specimen and book-stacked shelves, including items collected by Charles Darwin. You can also meet the museum's scientists, who can tell you some fascinating facts about the museum's many objects. These tours are suitable for kids over eight. Handheld guides are also available for those wanting to explore alone;

- The museum has been the setting of numerous books and films, including Paddington – a live-action animated comedy film where the villain is a taxidermist at the museum, which was shown in the cinemas in 2014.

Price

Like other publicly funded national museums in the United Kingdom, the Natural History Museum doesn’t charge an admission fee. However, there are admission charges for some of the special exhibitions and events.

Museum Membership Charges

Type of Membership Price
Adults GBP 61
Joint Adult Membership GBP 79
Family Membership (2 adults + up to 4 children) GBP 85

Timings

Every day- 10:00 AM-05:50 PM

Last entry- 5:30 PM.

The museum is open until 10:00 PM on the last Friday of every month (except December). It is closed from 24th-26th December.

How To Reach Natural History Museum

Tube: South Kensington- District, Piccadilly, & Circle Line (5-minute walk)

Train: West Brompton.

Bus: 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430, & C1.

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