THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Closest Underground Station: South Kensington
Admission: Free (apart from certain exhibitions)
After a decade long hiatus, I have found myself visiting the Natural History Museum a lot recently. I think this is due to the fact that The Natural History Museum (‘NHM’) is so vast and detailed, that it takes a good while to get around.
The NHM holds around 80 million artefacts, and the subject matter can be divided into the following categories –
- Palaeontology; and
In layman’s terms, that’s animals, plants, bugs, dinosaurs and rocks.
The first thing you see when you enter is the giant (fake) fossil of the diplodocus, known as Dippy. Dippy has been the face of the NHM for around 35 years and despite rumours back in January that he was being replaced by a blue whale, he seems to have stood his ground thus far. I personally hope he’s not replaced by a ‘younger model’ as the NHM’s dinosaur collection is probably what makes the museum so famous.
The Palaeontological section of the NHM holds many different dinosaur fossils, from the triceratops to tyrannosaurus rex. It separates the facts from the fiction, and explains the different theories behind the extinction of the dinosaurs. I’ve learnt that it was most likely a combination of volcanic eruptions, a meteor strike and subsequent climate change which caused the species to become extinct over millions of years, which does not bode well for humanity when you really think about it! Finally, if you’ve recently seen Jurassic World (which is amazing) and you fancy feeling like you’re in the movie, there is a very realistic moving T-Rex robot!
During my penultimate visit to the museum, I bought a book called ‘Darwin’s Notebook’ by Jonathan Clements (which you can buy here). I have never really held much interest in science or known much about Darwin, but this book was a real page turner and not only provided information on Darwin’s theories but gave interesting insight into his childhood and personal life. The NHM has the ‘Darwin Centre’ which holds a lot of different animal and botanical specimens. I will definitely be returning soon to spend more time in this section of the NHM, now that I have read this book!
The rest of the museum contains exhibits about climate change, volcanoes and earthquakes, and a hell of a lot of taxidermy. Every animal you could ever want to see can be found stuffed and preserved in the glass cabinets which line the walls of the NHM. Although this sounds kind of gross, as you can see from this case of hummingbirds, it can be very beautiful and probably the easiest way you would ever see the intricacies of such animals up close.
The most interesting thing I saw during my latest trip was the fossil of a marine reptile called an Ichthyosaur, which had died giving birth to its young. You can literally see the embryo half coming out! Call me weird, but I think that’s amazing.
So in conclusion, the NHM is definitely not just for kids! As they say in almost every ‘rags to riches’ movie, we can’t know where we’re going until we look at where we came from; something which is not just true for us personally, but as a species living on Planet Earth.
Thanks for reading,
~ Plane Emoji