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This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Natural History Museum

This is one of my most favourite buildings in London- The Natural History Museum. It is in the area of South Kensington and is next door to The Science Museum and across the road you will find The Victoria and Albert Museum. There is no entry fee to our public museums making them very popular with tourists. The building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, a young architect from Liverpool who won the contract after the original architect died. It was opened to the public on Easter Monday 1881.

 At the entrance to the Museum you can see these wonderful rounded arches which were inspired by the basalt columns at Fingal's Cave in Scotland.

The outside of the Museum is decorated with many statues, gargoyles and reliefs. Extinct animals are represented on the East side and living animals on the West. Waterhouse sketched them himself before they were cast in terracotta.

Even the columns are decorated with patterns found on fossil trees.
 These animals are at the base of the columns 

One of the Waterhosue building vents.
Throughout the Museum you can find examples of his artistic work. This is a vent cover.

Once inside you enter the magnificent central  hall. This was part of the vision of the  Museum's founder,Richard Owen. He wanted a museum large enough to display large mammals such as whales and elephants, as well as extinct animals such as dinosaurs. A cast of a diplodocus has stood in the central hall for the last 100 years.

Waterhouse's wonderful 'flying staircase' is an impressive bridge staircase spanning the CentralHall

The latest addition to the museum is the Darwin Centre which opened in 2009. Inside the centre is  the cocoon which houses more than 20 million specimens from around the world ranging from tiny insects to the giant redwood trees. The oldest collections go back 400 years. They have been gathered by naturalists and explorers such as Hans Sloane and Charles Darwin. But there are also specimens from unknown people such as government officials or ship's doctors. They represent a unique piece of world heritage and are still used today by scientists for research purposes.

The 8 storey cocoon is the largest sprayed cocrete
 curved structure in Europe. It has 30 steel columns which are each 28metres long. They are the longest columns ever transported through London. 
As a visitor you can wander through the cocoon, looking at examples of the collections, watch videos of the research being carried out by the scientists. There are also specific times when there are some of the scientists on hand to answer questions.


  1. Very interesting place! I am learning so much about London through your blog. Thanks for all this educational information! :-)

  2. Wonderful museum. The architecture is grand.

  3. We meant to go to the Natural History Museum but ended up in the Science Museum. While there is nothing wrong with our own museums, the Science Museum really did open my eyes to what a Museum can achieve. I vividly recall the earthquake simulator.

    The symmetry of the NHM building is superb.

  4. Magnificent building! Great pics & post!I am learning a lot following your blog :)

  5. Beautiful photos. The building is so beautiful.Thank you for sharing.

  6. The first time I visited the V&A was just after we had returned from living in Paris so I wasn't taken aback by the entrance charge then in place. There's almost always an entrance fee to visit a French museum and people stream into them. But I was really surprised at how empty the V&A was. I enquired, and apparently the number of people visiting declined by about 30% when they introduced charges. As you say, it's free entry again now.

    I really must go to visit before too long because it's a beautiful place with fascinating exhibits.

  7. Nice post about a beautiful building. I visited it long ago when my children were still young. The details of the building are so nice, I hadn't noticed them before.

  8. Wonderful architecture and I love the entrance ... absolutely stunning.

  9. Beautifully captured and wonderful commentary

  10. I have visited it long time ago, nice to see it again !

  11. Gorgeous... I love the architecture of that museum.. I'd love to visit there ---and include the Museum of Natural History on my list!!!!


  12. An incredible piece of architecture for sure. Thanks for sharing this building and its amazing features.


    I visited the Natural History Museum about 10 years ago and simply LOVED it! Although I must admit that as a Biologist I am slightly biased towards NHmuseums in general. :p But I was so caught up with the content, I'm afraid I didn't pay much attention to the building itself, and it's beautiful! I'll definitely have to go back and get another look! ;o)


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