Housed inside a gigantic Victorian-era edifice, this treasure trove of a museum holds 80 million specimens, including fossils, minerals, bones, insects, and taxidermy. Visitors can come face to face with a huge animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex at the Dinosaur Encounter exhibit, see a live leafcutter ant colony at work at the Creepy Crawlies gallery, and experience the sensation of the earth’s shaking at the earthquake simulator.
The Natural History Museum is one of a handful of prestigious museums located on Exhibition Row, a common stop on sightseeing and hop-on hop-off bus tours of London. Visitors to the museum can tour the galleries independently, see scientists at work at the Darwin Centre, buy tickets for special behind-the-scenes tours, and attend drop-in talks, workshops, and events.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wheelchair users can access the museum via the Exhibition Road entrance.
- This museum is big; download the visitor app or pick up a map upon arrival to help you navigate.
- Be prepared for a short wait for security checks at the entrance.
How to Get There
The Natural History Museum has two entrances: one on Cromwell Road and the other on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, opposite the Victoria and Albert Museum and beside the Science Museum. Take the Tube to South Kensington (District, Piccadilly, or Circle line) and follow the underground Exhibition Road tunnel from the station, taking the signposted Natural History Museum exit.
When to Get There
The Natural History Museum is open daily from 10am, with last entry at 5:30pm. Crowds flock here on weekends and during school breaks; arrive shortly after opening to avoid them. The museum also opens its doors for occasional after-hours events such as movie nights and even sleepovers. Among the most popular annual exhibitions are the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which typically opens in October and closes in May, and Sensational Butterflies, which runs from April to mid-September. In the build-up to Christmas, the museum’s seasonal open-air ice rink is the perfect place to get in the festive spirit.
Highlights of Hintze Hall
Since 1979, the 85-foot-long (26-meter-long) Dippy the Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton has stolen the show in the museum’s magnificent Hintze Hall. That is, until 2017, when Dippy went off on tour and was replaced by Hope, an equally impressive 126-year-old blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling.