It’s one of the most visited tourist spots in London and there’s more than a few secrets to be uncovered in the halls of the Natural History Museum. But with so many different exhibits to take in, you might just end up missing out on some of the most interesting things that call the museum home.
The beautiful building that’s become the Natural History Museum deserves a glance on its own. Built and opened in 1881, it’s become a landmark and is just a 15-minute stroll from the Park Grand Hotel Kensington. It holds more than 80 million items within its five main collections – botany, entomology, mineralogy, planetology, and zoology – as well as hosting exhibitions. So, which five things should you make sure to see during your Natural History Museum visit?
1. The blue whale skeleton
You’re not likely to miss this feature. The central hall of the Natural History Museum has been dubbed the cathedral of nature and its currently dominated by the huge skeleton of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling.
Nicknamed ‘Hope’ the colossal 25.3m-long skeleton is the star of Hintze Hall and aims to show how humanity is affecting nature and the environment. Its breath-taking size means that you’ll marvel at the skeleton as you walk beneath it.
Dotted around the hall are ten other star specimens to explore, including a skeleton of an American mastodon, one of the most complete dinosaur fossils discovered in the UK, and a slice of a 4.5-billion-year-old Imilac meteorite.
2. The cursed amethyst
In the mineralogy department you’ll find a curious artefact with a mysterious story to delve into, the cursed amethyst. According to stories everyone that has owned the amethyst has either committed suicide or died in mysterious circumstances after it was taken from India during the rebellion of 1857. It’s even said that one owner was so troubled by the amethyst that he placed in in a silver box filled with lucky charms and tossed it into the river, only for it to be returned. Today, it sits surrounded by other precious stones, including a Martian meteorite and medusa emerald.
3. The canopy ceiling
With so many wonderful things around you, you might forget to glace up at the ceiling. The gilded canopy was designed to tell a story too. The panels are filled with botanicals to gaze at as you step up the grand staircase. Choosing one of our hotels near Earls Court London means you’re in the right place when you want to check out this famous London sight.
4. Stunning wildlife photography
From the Park Grand Hotel Kensington, you’re close by to plenty of galleries but don’t forget to check out the exhibitions programme for the Natural History Museum. Until the 28th May 2018 you can check out some of the world’s best nature photography within the historic halls, a feature that you will want to add to your checklist. One hundred images record the beauty and drama of the natural world after the top photographs were chosen from almost 50,000 entries, each with a story behind them.
5. Archie the giant squid
The latest addition to the Natural History Museum is the Darwin Centre that was designed to house the tens of millions of preserved specimens the museum holds. While there are numerous things to explore in both the spirits collections and dry collections, the most famous creature is Archie. You can get up close to the 8.62m long giant squid, a rare and elusive species.