A city trip to London is usually packed with must-see landmarks and shopping. Consequently, a visit to a museum often is forgotten or striped of the list for the sake of time. However I would urge everyone to at least step into one of the three iconic museums. South Kensington’s Exhibition Road is the heart of cultural London with the three iconic buildings The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), The Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. So let me explain the reasons for visiting the Natural History Museum.
All national museums in London have free entrance. So what’s keeping you from stepping into the museum, even if it’s only for a quick look around. We can all agree that London is quite pricey so spending a few hours in a world-renowned museum without spending a penny feels really good. An interesting fact to know is that the museum has always been free. In the mid-nineteenth century, museums were expensive places visited only by the wealthy few, but the founder Sir Richard Owen insisted the Natural History Museum should be free and be accessible to all.
Best time to go? Avoid crowds by going in the late afternoon when all kids groups on school trip and bus loads of tourist groups have left.
The buildings architecture
Even if you’re not interested in any of the exhibitions, the architecture alone is a reason to visit the Natural History Museum. It opened its doors in 1881 but the origins reach back further to 1753. The museum is a striking example of Romanesque architecture. Designed by Alfred Waterhouse, the construction consists of terracotta. He was convinced that terracotta would be better resistant to London’s climate. Waterhouse went beyond just designing a building to house exhibitions. He incorporated decorations that complement the Museum’s exhibitions. Don’t forget to look up while walking around. Sometimes the hidden gems are above you. The building’s gallery ceilings e.g. are adorned with intricate tiles displaying a vast array of plants from all over the world.
So much to learn!
The main and obvious reason to go is ofcourse to learn about the natural history. With over 80 million specimens within 5 separate collections, four different zones, and many interactive exhibitions, the museum offers a wealth of knowledge and a fun experience. Two zones hold skeletons and replicas of mammals, reptiles, birds, insects and dinosaurs. One zone teaches about Earth science and how life first began on the planet. And in the newer part of the building there’s a Wildlife Garden and the active science lab of the Darwin Centre. If you don’t have time to cover all the zones, take a pick and leave the rest for another future trip.
A magical experience
If you’re visiting London in November, December or January, the museum offers a magical experience with its ice rink, thousands of twinkling lights and a merry-go-round. It’s a festive and fairy tale like scene you have to see at least once in your life.