The Natural History Museum collection dates from the middle of the eighteenth century, 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 a huge variety of plant and many 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, doctor and physicians added to the collection, including a collection 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 plant, 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.
The Central hall boasts a magnificent 'Diplodocus' skeleton. 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.
Culture vultures: head to London's best museums and galleries
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!
Attractions and activities for Animal Lovers
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.
Paul, West Midlands
Added: Jan 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!
Location: West Midlands