After some exotic trips, it’s time to visit a museum again. The Natural History Museum in London is right next door from the Science Museum. They’re very different, though. While the Science Museum is focussed on technology and engineering – lots of man-made scientific work – the Natural History Museum is all about, well, natural history.
If you’re going to the NHM during a school vacation, and want to see dinosaurs, you need to plan well ahead. Arrive at the museum when it opens, and as soon as you’re in, immediately line up for the dino exhibit. I can’t remember who gave me that tip when I went a few years ago, but thanks! Later in the day the dino-line was the length of several diplodocus’ necks. At the moment, the museum is offering free online advance tickets to see the dinosaurs gallery. So, again, plan ahead if you want to see dinos.
It’s well worth it: the dino gallery is very elaborate, and you get to walk around a lot of the skeletons. They’re displayed high and low in the room, and you can see them from all angles.
Another famous feature of the NHM is the statue of Darwin on the stairway. He looks out over the dino gallery queue and the entrance to the museum.
Beyond Darwin is the main part of the museum. There are lots of interesting small exhibits that you tend to almost walk past if you don’t pay attention, like this dodo with passenger pigeons, reminding you of animals that went extinct far more recently than dinosaurs.
Others are enormous and hard to miss, like the blue whale exhibit. There’s also a neat Earth hall, where an escalator takes you right through the centre of the earth into a super dramatic gallery – wheee! The Earth hall is closed this month, though, so maybe time your visit for after that (and avoid most of the dino line as well).
Like most museums in the UK, the NHM is free to visit, but they do need money to support the staff and collections. You can donate when you visit, or online. You can also donate specifically to fund scientific research carried out at the museum.