Wonders of the natural world: a guide to the Natural History Museum

Regarded the world over as its greatest – and certainly its biggest – location for research into and public education of natural history and ecology, South Kensington’s Natural History Museum is also one of London’s most popular attractions. And rightly so, for this venue is a place of true discovery and fascination for all visitors.

It houses examples of at least 10,000 preserved animals, more than 300 volumes of pressed plant species and, overall, in excess of 80 million items in the fields of zoology, palaeontology, mineralogy, entomology and botany. On the research side, the Museum has specialised, since its inception, in research into conservation of pretty much every species on the planet and, of course, holds the priceless specimens of animals and plants originally collected by Charles Darwin. Quite the attraction, then, surely, for anyone in the city enjoying London hotels special offers.

Meet the mammals

In more detail, then, the Natural History Museum is renowned for its examples of now (sadly) extinct animals. You’ll find such preserved examples in its ground floor’s northwest corner, while its lower floor is where to discover examples of land mammals (elephants, giraffes, hippos and these species’ antecedents) and the upper gallery for water-based mammals. Other examples you should seek out are of the Earth’s very earliest mammals and those native to Australia.

Discover the dinosaurs

Downstairs in the Museum is the biggest attraction for, famously, young visitors (not least those on a family getaway at the likes of the nearby Hyde Park International) because it’s here they immerse themselves in the world of dinosaurs. While the brilliantly recreated animatronic models are always big draws, just as satisfying is taking a look at skeletal dinosaur remains drawn from every corner of the Earth, including a marvellously memorable triceratops skull.

The Earth Hall

The most discerning of visitors make sure they don’t miss out on the Earth Hall. This fascinating area is where to head for a comprehensive collection of material that’s dedicated to the planet’s geology and minerals. Visitors come here, especially, to get a sense of what experiencing an earthquake’s like (careful, though, if you’ve had a full English breakfast Hyde Park London beforehand!), as well as taking a peek at gems in their natural states and then what they look like after they’ve being cut and polished and – yes, really – rocks from the Moon, too.

Moreover, this area features a six-foot-wide, rotating globe, which aids in the venue’s aim of telling the ‘Story of the Earth’ – a purpose that’s also served by the lectures and film shows held most days in the Main Hall.

The Darwin Centre

Finally, for the full Natural History Museum experience, don’t give this latest addition a miss. The Darwin Centre’s impressive not just for what it contains, millions upon millions of preserved specimens and a giant squid (nicknamed Archie), but also because it resembles an eight-storey cocoon. That alone may make this place an unmissable addition to your itinerary when booking at accommodation in Bayswater.

Here, too, is located the Attenborough Studio, a dynamic area given over to multimedia learning, via the screening of historic films and documentaries drawn from the Museum’s awesomely extensive multimedia archive.

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