We learnt recently that Dippy (the diplodocus dinosaur) at the Natural History Museum (NHM), which is one of the main attractions of the museum, will no longer be at the museum from early 2017. It will go on a tour. Not a worldwide one but a UK one and until 2020.
Since one of us had never been to the NHM (despite thinking about doing so for years) we thought… that’s it! We can no longer postpone the visit! So we decided to spend a night at the museum à la Ben Stiller. Well, not exactly, we say night because it gets dark very quickly now but we went there around 4 PM.
Although another one of us had already visited it, it was still a journey of discovery for both of us.
So whether you’ve been to the museum before or not, here are some good reasons why you should go (again)…
You should investigate… What we mean by that is you should be curious and visit the Investigate section of the museum. This section has been around for 20 years but most people don’t know about it and it is the only section where you are allowed to touch the animals, the fossils and anything you see there. It is located below Ground level (to access it you can take the lift from the Green section). So if you can’t keep your hands in your pockets or if you have children, this section is for you/them! There are also microscopes so you can analyse some of the treasures that you will find in the Investigate room.
Another thing worth knowing… the Investigate section is normally for pre-booked school groups during term time. But actually, it’s also opened to the general public during term time. You just need to know when. So, if you feel like exploring the interesting collection, know that you can do so during term time from 15.30 till 17.00 every day and during week-ends from 11.00 till 17.00.
The Darwin Centre
The Darwin Centre is a centre for world-class scientific research. Two hundred scientists work there on issues such as nature conservation.
They study plants and animals in order to increase our knowledge of the natural world. During the week, you can see how the scientists work. We went on a Sunday so the only thing we saw was where they hang their white lab coats.
The Cocoon is an impressive facility that is 8-storey high and is located in the Darwin area. It opened back in 2009
and looks like an alien spacecraft. It’s all white and looks similar to… a cocoon. Two of the storeys are accessible to visitors and the other six are used to host 20 million insects, butterflies, tiny wasps, plants and other buggers.
What makes the Cocoon really interesting and exciting is that it also contains an interactive gallery. So, by just pressing the screens you get to see different presentations, videos by scientists in the field and learn a lot.
One screen that we liked displayed an insect in 3D. By using your fingers on the screen you could move the insect’s picture around and analyse it from different angles, zoom in etc. We got to see what the insect really looks like and see its external part in detail. We found out that insects are less creepy when you see them very close (and behind a glass).
Our regular readers will know that we don’t only eat to live but we live to eat.
So, unsurprisingly, we had to try one of their cafés out (the one on the ground floor).
We were glad we did. We had some of their tea, coffee and cakes. And everything was consumed very quickly. No velociraptor would have been fast enough to grab a bite from our tray!
You got to try their cakes (especially their lemon & almond one:-))! The Christmas Latte with spices and pistachios was outstanding too!
There is also a free picnic area downstairs, near the Investigate section. So you could bring your own food and drink and sit on a table to relax before you plunge into the animal world again. There’s also plenty of space for the kids to run.
If you want to give up your ‘nerd’ hat after your visit, you could go to the NHM ice rink. It is right next to the museum, so you cannot miss it. So leave the Jurassic times behind and skate straight into the Ice Age!
Click here to see the timetable and pricing.
The Natural History Museum is a fascinating place where you will get to learn a lot. We visited it quite quickly. The main point was for us to see Dippy before it travels across the UK. But we plan on going back again and take our time to learn as much as possible. If you plan to visit it, the best thing to do is to arrive in the morning, visit for a few hours, eat and then visit some more.
So a good 6 hours will be required (= all day).
We didn’t get the chance to spend so much time on this occasion. But for our next visit, we’ll take our time to travel through the ages at a sloth pace!