London's Top 10 : Natural History Museum

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There are some 70 million specimens in the Natural History Museum’s fascinating collections. Originally the repository for items brought home by Charles Darwin and Captain Cook’s botanist, Joseph Banks, among others, the museum combines traditional displays with innovative, hands-on exhibits. With kid-pleasers such as the impressive dinosaur collection, it remains one of London’s most popular museums. Still a hot-house of research, the museum employs 300 scientists and librarians.

  • Cromwell Road SW7

  • 020 7942 5000


  • Open 10am–5:50pm daily. Last admission 5:30pm

  • Closed 24–26 Dec

  • Free

Museum Guide

The Natural History Museum is divided into four distinct sections: the blue zone, which includes the dinosaur gallery; the green zone, which includes the ecology and creepy-crawlies galleries; the orange zone, which includes a wildlife garden; and the red zone, which incorporates the geological displays.

The ornately embellished Cromwell Road entrance leads to the imposing central hall with its grand staircase.

An additional entrance on Exhibition Road leads to the red zone.

Main entrance

Try the restaurant in the green zone, or the other two cafés and snack bars.

A number of different tours are available, including a visit to the outdoor Wildlife Garden. Details at the Central Hall information desk.

There are free guided tours of the Darwin Centre at 3pm & 4pm Mon–Fri (4pm only on Wed).

Top 10 Exhibits
  1. The Vault

    The museum’s extensive collection of gemstones, rocks and minerals includes brilliant red Rhodochrosite from the USA. The displays of glittering and colourful stones and rocks include descriptions of how we depend on them.

  2. Earthquake Simulator

    The Power Within looks at volcanoes and earthquakes. Experience a simulation of the 1995 Kobe earthquake in a Japanese supermarket.

  3. Journey Through the Globe

    Approach the red zone by an escalator that travels through a giant globe. The model is made of iron, zinc and copper to symbolize the Earth’s composition.

  4. No. 1 Crawley House

    Perhaps the most hair-raising display is housed in No. 1 Crawley House, an exhibit which shows just how many of the 1.3 million known kinds of arthropods, or creepy-crawlies, share our homes.

  5. Model Baby

    A giant model of an unborn baby in the Human Biology galleries demonstrates sounds heard in the womb. Other hands-on exhibits test abilities and reactions and show how physical characteristics are inherited.

  6. Water Cycle Video Wall

    A semi-spherical video wall in the Ecology Gallery shows the water cycle and how it links all life on the planet. A walk-through leaf shows how plants make oxygen.

  7. Fossils

    Marine reptiles that lived at the time of the dinosaurs have survived in some remarkable fossils, such as the pregnant female Ichthyosaur, found in a Dorset garden, which lived 187–178 million years ago.

  8. Blue Whale

    The Mammal gallery houses this fascinating exhibit, where both modern mammals and their fossil relatives are dwarfed in comparison to the astounding life-sized model of a blue whale, the largest mammal in the world.

  9. Dinosaurs

    T. Rex, one of the museum’s impressively life-like animatronic models, lurches and roars in this hugely popular gallery. More traditional exhibits of fossilized skeletons and eggs are also on display.

  10. Darwin Centre

    The centre features an eight-storey concrete structure in the shape of a cocoon, which is home to over 200 scientists, and provides protection to millions of insects and plant specimens.

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