Natural History Museum

Museum in South Kensington rated 9 / 10 from 3 reviews
Natural History Museum image
Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD
Nearest Station
South Kensington
0.21 miles

The Natural History Museum collection dates from the middle of the eighteenth century, and was originally housed in Bloomsbury. The collection was started by premier London Physician Dr. Hans Sloane. Sloane’s collection included animal and human skeletons, snake skins, and a huge variety of plants and artefacts from across the globe. Dr. Sloane’s will asked for the collection not to become separated and stipulated that the collection should reside in London where it would be seen by the maximum concentration of people. The Crown bought his collection and over the next one hundred years explorers, doctors and physicians added to the collection, including a treasure of herbs collected by Joseph Banks during his travels with Captain Cook aboard the ‘Endeavour’.

In 1856 Professor Richard Owen, the country’s most acclaimed palaeontologist, took charge of the collection and successfully campaigned to have the growing collection moved to larger premises. Parliament bought land in South Kensington soon after to build the proposed museum. In 1864 a competition was held to design the new museum, using Owens’s propositions as a guideline. The winning design came from Captain Francis Fowke, the designer of the Exhibition Centre. Fowke then died suddenly and Alfred Waterhouse was elected to continue his plans. After seven years the building was completed in 1880.

The Museum is a spectacular Victorian-style Italian Renaissance building described as a 'Cathedral of Science', and was the combined vision of three extraordinary men. The exterior of the building is adorned with stone animals and plants, symbolizing the significance of the interior exhibits. The Natural History Museum is now one of the most visited museums in the country and contains an unrivalled collection of exhibits. A 25-metre blue whale skeleton, the largest mammal in the world, suspended in the air, is the main exhibit in the impressive Hinze Hall, and is the gateway to the museum. Other exhibits include dinosaurs, human biology, ecology, British natural history, discovering mammals, reptiles and fish, marine invertebrates and creepy Crawlies. Admission to the Natural History Museum is free, although donations are welcome.

All Images: Trustees of the Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum Picture Gallery

Natural History Museum Picture
Natural History Museum Picture
Natural History Museum Picture
Natural History Museum Picture
Natural History Museum Picture
Natural History Museum Picture

Best For

Culture vultures: head to London's best museums and galleries picture

Culture vultures: head to London's best museums and galleries

Way better than an evening in front of TOWIE

The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum are so close that they are basically the same place. Fact. Okay, not a fact but a trip to one can quite simply be followed by a trip to the other. Blue whales, dinosaurs, biology and “earthquake games” are all part of the fun to be had at the South Kensington museums. There are even ice rinks in winter!

London's top attractions and activities for Animal Lovers picture

London's top attractions and activities for Animal Lovers

There's plenty on offer in our guide

Fans of creepy crawlies should head to the Natural History Museum for the largest collection of bugsthe city has to offer. Extraordinary specimens of butterflies, spiders and other insects are on display here - some are definitely not suitable for the squeamish. The best time to visit is between April and October when the Wildlife Garden is open, which the invertebrates share with birds, foxes and sheep.

Things to Try

Dino Snores Sleepover  picture

Dino Snores Sleepover

If you’ve ever watched Night at the Museum, you’ll know that when the lights go out things get a liiitle bit crazy.
Read more
Archie the Giant Squid  picture

Archie the Giant Squid

Have you seen Archie? Call yourself a Londoner?
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Stay Late @ The Natural History Museum picture

Stay Late @ The Natural History Museum

When it's better to be late
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Get butterflies...but not in your stomach  picture

Get butterflies...but not in your stomach

Watch the butterflies flutter by
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Sleep under a blue whale's skeleton picture

Sleep under a blue whale's skeleton

Embrace the Dino Snores...
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User Reviews

Jonathan Roger
from London

Aug 8, 2013

I love coming here - it doesn't matter if you're a tourist or a resident - they seem to change the exhibitions so frequently that there's always something new to see. And the main part of the museum is free! Incredible!
from West Midlands

Jan 14, 2013

I love the Natural History Museum - it's a fantastic building full of fantastic things. If you love nature and science this is a great place to visit - and it's free!

I went recently to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. It was busy and you had to buy time slots - but the exhibition was great!

Name: Paul
Location: West Midlands

Nov 16, 2010

One of the best places to be in London. The building looks wonderful from the outside and it hides many secrets. When you come in you are face to face with a huge skeleton of an animal from long ago. The most populair by kids are the dinosaurs. Some really move and the most impressive is the T-Rex. A must see for children, but young ones might be scared of the noises and the big animals. Another impressive thing is the part of a Seqoia Tree. It is huge and has a tale to tell. If you want to visit this museum be on time as the cues can get long, because of the security checks, but also because the gates are still closed.

Jul 22, 2004

A great place for all ages, a national institution in every sense of the phrase. The building itself makes it worth a visit. Ideal for rainy days and educational for all. Watch out for the annual wildlife photography exhibition which is just fantastic.

Jul 13, 2004

Very good museum, I spent hours walking around it. Especially like the Diplodocus in the main hallway, very impressive!

If you're in the area it's definately worth a visit.