It’s Wednesday and time to wander again. This week, I’m not travelling too far from home. I’m lucky enough to live very close to London and all that it holds, including some wonderful (and very famous) museums. This week, I’m wandering to the Natural History Museum, arguably one of the best known.
Situated in the heart of leafy Kensington, the Natural History Museum was opened in 1881, and is home to 80 million specimens from around the world, including those collected by Charles Darwin on his historic voyage. The origin of the museum can be traced back to the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, an Irish doctor who sold his collection of specimens to the British government in 1756.
This collection was first held in Montagu House, Bloomsbury, but was so poorly managed by subsequent staff members, including destroying specimens and losing labels, that much of it was lost. In 1856 a palaeontologist named Richard Owen was appointed superintendent of the museum – it was he who finally managed to bring order to the collection, and saw that a new, larger museum space was required.
While attractions such as the dinosaur skeletons and the earthquake room, where you can relive the Kobe earthquake as it happened, are a major pull for visitors, I happen to think the building itself is part of the museum’s allure. Designed by Alfred Waterhouse and inspired by his frequent visits to Europe, the terracotta tiled interior and exterior of the museum are crammed with carving and decoration, beautifully and intricately done.
Interestingly, the relief sculptures of flora and fauna are split into living and extinct species, with living species in the west wing, and extinct species in the east wing. This was at the request of Owen, and is seen as part of his rebuttal of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, which stated (in part) that living and extinct species are linked.
We have a family membership to the museum, so we visit quite often – even though admission is free, you have to pay to see the temporary exhibitions, and the pass lets us get in to those for free, as well as jump the queue for popular attractions like the dinosaur skeletons. It’s also a great way to support our wonderful museums, of course! The earthquake room is a particular favourite of the gorgeous girl, as is anything interactive where she can push buttons, listen to whale calls or create waves, among other things.
Dippy the Diplodocus was a feature in the main hall until recently, when he was replaced by a blue whale skeleton diving from the ornamental ceiling – quite an awesome sight! Dippy is now on tour around the country, and is apparently having a marvellous time…
Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!
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Looks wonderful. I’ll have to make sure I visit this during a future visit to England.
Oh, it’s a fabulous place – I hope you do get to visit! Do you have plans to come over?
I have intentions to fly out in June for the Silent Eye workshop in Dorest. Will you be attending?
Oh really? I’ve just booked my accommodation for that workshop – I try to do one a year and that’s the one I’m going to as well 🙂 so pleased you’ll be there too, it’ll be lovely to meet you
If I can make it work, I’ll be there. Normally I would be at the April workshop, but I think I’m meant to be at this one instead. It will be lovely to meet you as well. ❤
Funny how it works out that way, isn’t it? I do hope you can make it x
Oooh, this made me relive one of my biggest childhood nightmares – I was taken to see those dinosaur skeletons when I was very young and had nightmares about being chased by them for years afterward! I’ve never wanted to go back.
Ooh that’s awful, Deb – I was scared of dinosaurs when I was a kid too, so I get it! Must have been quite terrifying to see them when you were small, all those teeth and bones. Hope the nightmares have gone now x
Most of the time, but I still have no wish to see another dinosaur skeleton, and I avoid films that have them or those dreams recur 😦
Oh no! It really left a lasting impression – I think that does happen when we’re exposed to things while we’re small. I got taken on a ride at an amusement park that we thought was for children when I was about two. It turned out to be a ghost train and I was so terrified apparently I went under the seat of the cart – for years afterwards I had to sleep with the light on and I’m still not entirely comfortable in the dark. I guess certain things stay with you.
Sounds about right. We are so impressionable at a young age, especially when we have the imagination overload that later serves us well as spec fiction authors!
I wish we still built buildings like that.
Me too. Much nicer than the square concrete boxes you see around these days.
Looks great. I’ll need to ensure I visit this amid a future visit to England.
Oh, I hope you get to – it’s a fabulous place 🙂