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The Natural History Museum in London
London’s Natural History Museum is known worldwide for its prestigious academic achievements and extensive collections. While most of the more than 70 million specimens are carefully tucked away for the sake of science, there is still plenty on display throughout the museum. The museum is set up in different zones, each curated to focus on a specific theme. The most famous of these is the Green Zone, which greets visitors right as they come in. In the huge cathedral-like front are skeletons and fossils of some of the world’s most well-known dinosaurs. The Red Zone celebrates the natural history of the planet and focuses on geology and evolution.
Size matters in the Blue Zone which houses the popular dinosaur gallery and guests can see a life size blue whale from both above and below. In the Orange Zone is the newest and most talked about part of the Natural History Museum: the Darwin Centre. This part of the museum opened in the late 2000s and is home to more than 20 million specimens and scientific pieces from around the world. There are more than 3 kilometres of cabinets, storing everything in the collection from the most recent pieces to specimens collected by Captain James Cook during his voyage in the 1800s that are now extinct. There are often scientists at work here, and tour guides are available to show you around and answer questions.
During the spring, summer, and autumn the museum’s wildlife garden is open. This area is on the museum’s west lawn. This spot is home to some of Great Britain’s local flora and fauna and is a popular place for picnics.
The Romanesque terracotta building covered with ornate animal carvings that houses the museum is one of the most distinct buildings in London. The Natural History Museum first opened its doors in 1881 and seems to symbolize the country’s Victorian obsession to collect and categorize all of the plants and animals it discovered during its existence as a massive empire.
The museum’s beginnings, however, didn’t start with the museum itself. It was actually born when the biological collection of Sir Hans Sloan was bequeathed to the government for safe keeping. After that, more and more pieces were added to the collection. A building to hold everything was then commissioned, and after the first architect suddenly perished, Alfred Waterhouse designed the building we now see today. While the facility has been a part of the scientific community since then, it wasn’t declared a museum until 1963.
The Natural History Museum is a popular stop for those who are visiting London. But there are a few basics you should know if you are planning a visit, especially a visit with small children. One of the best ways to see the museum is with a tour. There are several options including the Nature Live tours which are given by scientists who work in the museum. These tours book up fast, so make sure to reserve a spot as soon as you get there. Some of these tours also have age restrictions and don’t allow children under ten, so ask beforehand. There are also a lot of activities that aren’t kid friendly, including breakable items and some things that very young children may find scary, but there are also plenty of activities specifically for kids throughout the museum as well. It is also important to wear comfortable shoes because you will be doing a significant amount of walking.