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A Short Guide to the Natural History Museum

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The origins of the Natural History Museum go back to  when Sir Hans Sloane left his collection of curiosities to the nation. It was originally housed in the newly-formed British Museum but by 1860 it was decided that a new building was needed. The chosen site for the new Natural History Museum in South Kensington was previously occupied by the 1862 International Exhibition building.

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Alfred Waterhouse created the design for the new museum which opened to the public on 18 April 1881. Although opinions on the new building were mixed at the time, over time it has been recognised as a London icon and become world famous.

The museum has expanded considerably since its opening incorporating the Geological Museum in 1985, and in 2000 a large extension was built on the back of the South Kensington site to house some of the collections and curators. Known as the ‘The Darwin Centre’.

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The Museum houses one of the largest and most important natural history collection in the world with more than 70 million specimens, ranging from microscopic slides to mammoth skeletons.

The range of the specimens is enormous, including material from the ill-fated dodo, meteorites from Mars and a full-size blue whale skeleton. They cover almost all groups of animals, plants, minerals and fossils, and range in size from cells on slides to whole animals preserved in alcohol.

In total in the collection, there are:
55 million animals, including 28 million insects
9 million fossils
6 million plant specimens
more than 500,000 rocks and minerals
3,200 meteorites
17 million insect and 3 million plant specimens are now looked after in the Darwin Centre and Cocoon

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Highlights

 

Volcanoes and Earthquakes gallery

Discover the dramatic forces of nature in our newly-opened Volcanoes and earthquakes gallery.

Treasures in the Cadogan Gallery

Explore some of the most exceptional objects from the Museum’s collection in new permanent gallery.

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Dinosaurs

Meet a terrifying T.Rex, inspect dinosaur skeletons and sort the facts from the myths about why dinosaurs died out in the famous Dinosaurs gallery.

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Mammals (blue whale)

Discover a world of massive mammals. Inspect a blue whale, the largest creature ever, from above and below.

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Hintze Hall, formerly the Central Hall

The Museum’s grand entrance hall includes the Blue whale skeleton, a 1,300-year-old giant sequoia tree, Darwin’s statue and the coelacanth, a prehistoric fish still living in the Indian Ocean.

Images of Nature

Marvel at some of the most beautiful, historic artworks and modern images of nature held by the Museum.

Creepy Crawlies

Satisfy your curiosity about ants, hawk moths, termites, spiders, hermit crabs and 1000s of their relatives.

The Vault
Discover the stories behind some of nature’s most rare, unique and valuable treasures in the Museum’s Vault gallery.

Earth Hall

Examine beautiful specimens, including a piece of the Moon. Then take the escalator up through the giant Earth sculpture made from iron, zinc and copper.

This Museum has Free Admission

If you would like further information, visit the National History Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

A Short Guide to the British Museum

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The British Museum

Location -British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG

The British Museum  in London is a museum dedicated to human history and culture. Its permanent collection, numbering some 8 million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all around the world illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.
The British Museum was founded in 1753, the first national public museum in the world. From the beginning it granted free admission to all ‘studious and curious persons’. Visitor numbers have grown from around 5,000 a year in the eighteenth century to nearly 6.7 million in 2013

The origins of the British Museum lie in the collection of the physician, naturalist and collector, Sir Hans Sloane  which he bequeathed to King George II for the nation. The gift was accepted and on 7 June 1753, an Act of Parliament established the British Museum.
The founding collections largely consisted of books, manuscripts and natural specimens with some antiquities and ethnographic material. In 1757 King George II donated the ‘Old Royal Library’ of the sovereigns of England.

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Montague House

The British Museum opened to the public on 15 January 1759 . It was first housed in a seventeenth-century mansion, Montagu House, in Bloomsbury on the site of today’s building. Entry was free and given to ‘all studious and curious Persons’.

In 1823 The Museum was rebuilt with a quadrangular building and a round Reading Room designed by Sir Robert Smirke .

In the 19th century the Museum became very popular attracting crowds of all ages and social classes, particularly on public holidays. It also greatly increased its educational and academic work with sponsorship of many excavation in many parts of the world. It also received a large number of donations which greatly increased the collections.

By the 20th century, the Museum built on its reputation as one of the great Museums of the world by refurbishing many of the galleries and setting up an education service and a publishing company.

In the late 20th century a decision was made to move the British Library which had been based at the British Museum to a new home at St Pancras.

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The Great Court

The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court designed by Norman Foster, built in the space vacated by the library was the most ambitious modern expansion at the Museum. At two acres, it is the largest covered public space in Europe. In the centre is the restored Reading Room, while around and beneath it new galleries and an education centre were built. Some of the highlights of the collection are :

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1. The Rosetta Stone
2. Assyrian Lion Hunt reliefs
3. Parthenon sculptures

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4. Lewis Chessmen
5. Oxus Treasure
6. Royal Game of Ur
7. Mummy of Katebet

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8. Samurai armour
9. King of Ife

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10 Sutton Hoo Helmet

Opening Times

Free, open daily 10.00–17.30

The Museum is open until 20.30 on Fridays, except Good Friday (18 April 2014).

Cafés and Restaurants

Court Restaurant, Court Cafés, Gallery Café.

Museum shops

Bookshop, Family shop, Collections shop, Culture shop

Online research

You can search over two million collection objects online, and browse 5,000 highlights

Handling objects

The Museum  also operates  a unique opportunity to handle objects from the Museum’s collection. Volunteers will help you and answer your questions.

See Video Review here

For more information visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here