Natural History Museum. Museum in London, England

Natural History Museum

Museum in London, England

Inside The Natural History Museum, London Photo © Gene Krasko

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Natural History Museum

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If you have any interest at all in the planet we live on, you should probably consider visiting the Natural History Museum when you are visiting the capital city of the United Kingdom, London. The museum itself is housed in an huge, impressive building that has stood for a number of years and specifically built to house the museum.

The History Behind the Natural History Museum

In the 19th century, after calls for the natural history departments of the British Museum to be expanded and the lack of space for them in their location at the time, the British Museum purchased an area of land in South Kensington (Wikipedia

This area of land was to be used as the site of a new building dedicated to Natural History. It held a competition to design the new museum in 1864 and Captain Francis Fowke (Wikipedia Article)’s entry was chosen. However, Fowke did not live long enough to see the completion of his idea and Alfred Waterhouse (Wikipedia Article) took the helm and made a number of alterations to the original designs.

The striking terracotta tiling of the building serves both aesthetic and functional purposes. During the time of construction, an industrialized Victorian London commonly suffered from high levels of pollution, soot, and smog, which would taint and coat buildings. The tiling on the Natural History Museum is somewhat resistant to this kind of climate and if you look closely at some of the brick and tiling, there are even sculptural elements that depict various forms of natural life.

Waterhouse preferred the Romanesque style of continental Europe, which he often visited. The building of the museum took seven years to complete between 1873 and 1880. However, the museum did not open until 1881 and the last of the exhibits from the old location were not moved until as late as 1883.

Visiting the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in London is divided into four zones: The Blue Zone, Red Zone, Green Zone, and Orange Zone all feature thematically-different exhibitions.

The Blue Zone

The Natural History Museum’s Blue Zone plays host to exhibits that focus on life on earth. This is the area where visitors can see huge dinosaurs as well as fishes, amphibians and reptiles. The Blue Zone is where you should visit if you wish to learn more about human biology, marine life, and witness the astounding size of the blue whale!

The Red Zone

The Red Zone takes visitors to the Natural History Museum through how our earth was formed over many years and the forces that have shaped the planet. This zone includes the most complete Stegosaurus fossil ever seen and welcomes visitors to the Red Zone.

This whole area features plenty of fossils from around 3,500 million years ago from almost the beginning of life on our planet. There are also examples of more “recent” forms of life from just a few million years ago! Here you can see the incredible mammals that were able to prosper on earth once all competition from dinosaurs had disappeared.

There are also poignant exhibitions on the animals that have been driven to extinction by our own hands or at least in part by the actions of the human race.

The Green Zone

The Green Zone features a number of zoological areas with exhibits from the modern era as well as fossils from millions of years ago. You can see exhibits features birds, both existing and extinct, endangered and prospering. If you’re not scared of them, there is a fascinating area featuring all the bugs, insects, and creepy crawlies.

The Green Zone’s Ecology Gallery explores how all living things on the planet are connected and the importance of this relationship. You can see the cycles that bring together the life and death of creatures as well as the food chains that exist in various ecosystems.

The Orange Zone

The Orange Zone features both the Darwin Center and the Wildlife Garden. These areas are the living, breathing, and working parts of the museum where you can witness scientists doing what they do best.

If you are visiting between 1 April and 31 October, you can enjoy the Wildlife Garden which is home to over 2,000 different plant and animal species. This shouldn’t be missed if you are lucky enough to be visiting on a day when the weather is nice and the sun is out!

Getting to the Natural History Museum

By Tube

Most places worth visiting in London are usually near a Tube station. The Natural History Museum is a short walk from the South Kensington Tube station. South Kensington serves the District, Piccadilly (Wikipedia Article) and Circle lines (marked on Underground maps as green, blue, and yellow, respectively).

By Bus

A number of buses stop near to the Natural History Museum. If you are wanting to take a typical London bus, you can take the buses numbered 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430, or C1.

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Author: JP_Translation. Last updated: May 01, 2015

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