London

The Ultimate Guide to visiting the natural history museum

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Open: Everyday: 10:00AM to 5:50PM

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Price: Free

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Time Needed: 4 hours

From dinosaur fossils and chunks of moon rock, to exotic plants, and even a dodo skeleton, there’s no telling what you’ll come across during a visit to London’s Natural History Museum.

The Natural History Museum is home to more than 70 million specimens (with at least 500,000 items being added each year), making it one of the largest collections of natural history in the world.

The museum was founded in 1754 (although it moved to its current location in 1881), and was founded thanks to the generous contributions of Sir Hans Sloane, who was also responsible for contributing items to the British Museum. Apparently Sloane wasn’t pleased with the natural history collection at the British Museum, and as a result he decided to help fund a second museum in a separate building to house more of these items.

Today, the museum attracts more than five million visitors each year, and is considered to be one of the three most important museums in London (behind the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum).

 

Pompeii casts Natural History Museum
Dinosaur Natural History Museum London
London Natural history Museum Gold Nugget
Bug Exhibit London Natural History Museum
Interior London Natural History Museum
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Natural History Museum Highlights

The Natural History Museum is conveniently divided into four different coloured zones, each of which focus on specific topics or subjects.

The Green Zone has more of a focus on birds, insects, fossils, and minerals, while the Red Zone focuses more on Earth, the planets and the universe; (like the evolution of humans, volcanoes and earthquakes). The Blue Zone, on the other hand, covers everything from dinosaurs, amphibians, mammals, reptiles and marine invertebrates, and the Orange Zone leads you through the Wildlife Garden (which is only open between April and October).

Some of the many fascinating items at the Natural History Museum include:

  • Dippy the Diplodocus skeleton (which hangs in the Central Hall).
  • The first T. Rex fossil ever discovered.
  • The Wold Cottage meteorite (which is 4.6 billion years old – making it 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 Darwins’ 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 as it would during a real earthquake).

Special Tips

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Try to avoid visiting the museum on school holidays as it can get incredibly busy – otherwise, be prepared to be surrounded by children at all times!

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The main entrance tends to have a long queue which means you may have to stand outside for up to an hour before you get in. If you want to avoid this, the side entrance tends to have shorter queues, especially on weekdays.

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If you can, try to visit the museum during the evening hours, as the building and hallways are especially beautiful when lit up at night.

Getting There

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Address

Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom (See map).

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By Tube

The nearest station is South Kensington (which is a four-minute walk away)

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By Train

The nearest station is West Brompton.

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By Bus

You can reach the museum via routes 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430 and C1.

Visiting Natural History Museum

Recommended visiting time to the Natural History Museum is around three to four hours; but one could easily spend the entire day wandering around all four of the museum’s coloured zones.

If you’re worried about missing anything important, you can follow the “Museum Trails” so you can do your own self-guided tour through any of the four zones in the museum, which normally last between one to two hours.

You can also download the Natural History Museum Visitor App before you visit, so you can see the museum’s interactive maps, and find out more information about the many exhibitions and events that are taking place in the museum during your visit.

There is a cloakroom located in the Hintze Hall (next to the Museum Shop) where you can leave your coats (for £2), luggage (between £2.50 and £5), and umbrellas (£1). Museum members and children can leave their items for free.

Ticket Costs

The Natural History Museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. (with last entry at 5:30 p.m.), and is closed between December 24th and 26th each year.

The museum is free for anyone to enter, but there may be charges for some of the temporary exhibitions (unless you’re a museum member).

If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Natural History Museum, you can get priority access to the dinosaur gallery, and even get guest passes for your family and friends. Not only that, you can also join behind-the-scene tours and meet the museum’s scientists, who can tell you some fascinating facts about the museum’s many objects. The adult membership costs £61, but there are also joint adult memberships for £79, and family memberships (consisting of two adults and up to four children) for £85.

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