Natural History Museum, London

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It’s day 2 of #MuseumWeek and today I’m sharing at trip my son and I took way back in 2005 to one of our favourite museums ever – The Natural History Museum in London! (You can read all of my other #MuseumWeek posts here!)

We’ve been to this museum lots of times over the years, I remember going there when I was a little girl and the reason I’m sharing this particular visit from 2005 is because it was the first time I’d taken Liam up to London on my own as a single mum. I was very proud of that day and we had such a fun time!

The origins of the Natural History Museum go back to 1753, when Sir Hans Sloane left his extensive collection of curiosities to the nation. Originally this was housed in the newly-formed British Museum but by 1860 Sir Richard Owen (right), who was in charge of the natural history collection, had persuaded the Government that a new building was needed.

The chosen site in South Kensington was previously occupied by the 1862 International Exhibition building, once described as ‘one of the ugliest buildings ever raised in England’. Ironically, its architect, Captain Francis Fowke, won the competition to design the new Natural History Museum.

However, in 1865 Fowke died suddenly, and a relatively unknown young architect was brought in to complete the project. Alfred Waterhouse created a new design, changing the style from Renaissance to German Romanesque. The beautiful Waterhouse Building opened to the public on 18 April 1881.

The photos of course are really quite rubbish, but I treasure them as I always remember the day we went to the Natural History Museum together. We do actually plan on going back up there in the coming months and I’ll do another post about it then!

The nearest tube station to the Natural History Museum is in South Kensington, on the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines. We get the District line all the way there – it’s a long old ride, but it’s part of the day out!

Here is the boy at just 6 years old, all excited to be going on the tube! It looks like he is floating which is hilarious – his trousers really blend in with the concrete floor!! We’d only gone a couple of stops before he decided he was less than impressed with the long journey!

When you get off the tube at South Kensington it’s a short walk to the museum. This stop also services the Science Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum.

Entry to the Natural History Museum is FREE! Some exhibitions have a charge, but believe me there is TONS to see! It is open every day from 10am to 5.50pm (last entry at 5.30pm). Always check the website for the most up to date information.

When my son was younger he LOVED dinosaurs, and this museum is full of these prehistoric fossils. The iconic one being Dippy, the 26 metre cast of a diplodocus. The first picture in the post is of Liam in front of it – like I said, rubbish photos!

Some parts of the museum are dark, and can be scary for young children – especially the animatronic T-Rex! Be cautious with littluns! Liam loved it though and roared right back!!

With more than 70 million specimens, ranging from microscopic slides to mammoth skeletons, the Museum is home to the largest and most important natural history collection in the world.

I remember him telling me all about the various different types of dinosaurs, and love that some exhibits are hands on. Makes for a wonderful experience.

I remember as a child the room with the huge life size model of a blue whale and being awed by it. As an adult I still feel the same! There are other sealife creatures suspended from the ceiling in the Blue Zone, as well as models of so many other creatures from the smallest to the largest. You can view from below and above and it does get crowded in this part of the museum.

There is a gallery full of taxidermy. If I remember rightly, there was a sign up saying that these are old specimens. Like I said, it’s been a few years, and just looking through the Natural History Museum website has got me very excited to go and have a wander around again very soon.

The museum is split into zones – blue, green, red and orange, and there is so much to see that I can’t possibly do it justice from memory. I remember rooms with gemstones, and seashells and stuffed birds and sea creatures. I remember going up the stairs in the grand entrance and us looking at the piece of a giant sequoia which is over 1300 years old!

There are gift shops (hence Liam clutching a T-Rex model – which he still has!) and activities to do. Places to get a bit to eat (although, we took our own packed lunch) and is really a fantastic day out.

I personally don’t think you could see everything in this museum in one day – a few trips are required to fully appreciate everything. I know we’ve been there maybe a dozen or so times over the decades(!!) and I still see new things! But it’s the famous fossils that keep us going back, because they are just marvellous to look at and unbelievable at the same time. It’s a fantastic family day out – even more so if your children (or indeed you!) are into dinosaurs and natural history!
Have you ever been to the Natural History Museum?
What is your favourite things to see and do when visiting?

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