guide to visiting the natural history museum

A 5-Step Guide To Visiting The Natural History Museum

Thinking about visiting the Natural History Museum in London this winter?

Embark on a journey through time and discovery and see the wonders of the natural world come to life. 

The Natural History Museum is home to one of the most important natural history collections with over 80 million specimens, with hundreds of thousands of items being added each year.

From a vast range of must-see attractions such as the zoology display to one of the world’s finest mineralogy collections.

In this 5-step guide, we invite you to explore the captivating exhibits, from the iconic colossal dinosaurs to the intricate wonders of human evolution. 

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned explorer, let this guide be your key to a seamless experience within the museum’s halls:

      1. Planning Your Visit
      2. Must-See Exhibits and Galleries
      3. Interactive and Family-Friendly Activities
      4. Practical Tips for a Smooth Experience
      5. Souvenirs and Continued Exploration
     

    1. Planning Your Visit

    Before rushing head-first into the awe-inspiring world of the Natural History Museum, strategically plan your trip and what you want to see and do beforehand.

    Start by checking the museum’s official website for up-to-date information on opening hours and any special events. 

    To bypass long queues, consider purchasing tickets online in advance, allowing you to create enough time to explore the exhibits.


    visiting the natural history museum

    As the Natural History Museum is one of the UK’s most visited indoor attractions, it is important to expect crowds and busy exhibitions.

    Planning ahead also involves choosing the optimal time for your visit—aim for weekdays or early mornings to avoid larger crowds. Take note of any temporary closures or exhibit renovations that might impact your visit.

    Equip yourself with a map of the museum layout, available both online and on-site, to strategically navigate through the various galleries. 

    By taking these steps in advance, you’ll set the stage for a well-organised adventure, ensuring you make the most of your time discovering the treasures housed within the Natural History Museum.


    2. Must-See Exhibits and Galleries

    Journeying through the Natural History Museum promises marvels of the natural world, but there are so many to choose from! 

    The museum is conveniently colour-coded in numerous zones for simplicity.

    Here are our top picks for must-see exhibits and galleries:


    Blue Zone: Dinosaurs to Man

        • Dinosaurs Gallery: With a towering and growling T-rex, a triceratops skull, as well as the first part of a T-rex ever discovered.

        • Mammals Gallery: Showcasing fossils and skeletons of extinct animals alongside specimens of their living relatives. 

        • Fishes, Amphibians & Reptiles: Showcasing the ocean’s weird and wonderful life.

        • Images of Nature: Showcasing the relationship between art and science.

      skeleton in the natural history museum

      The great blue whale skeleton display is one of the most iconic and popular sights in the Natural History Museum.
       

      Green Zone: Bugs, Birds, Fossils and Minerals

          • Minerals: With over 12.600 gems and minerals on display.

          • Fossil Marine Reptiles: Home to some of the most complete fossils of prehistoric sea life on the planet.

        • Birds: With countless displays of different and colourful bird species.
         

        Red Zone: Planet Earth

            • Earth Hall: Featuring Sophie (the most complete Stegosaurus skeleton ever discovered), this hall displays many other strange curiosities such as a fossilised stingray.

            • Volcanoes & Earthquakes: From earthquake recreations to footage of volcanoes erupting, discover the powers of the world that we inhabit.

            • Earth’s Treasury: Featuring minerals, rocks and gemstones, even including rock from Stonehenge!

            • From The Beginning: Discover the universe’s beginnings and evolution of life from the Big Bang.

            • Human Evolution: Discover the origins and gradual evolution of the human race.

            • Lasting Impressions: Fossils imprinted from events long ago.

          • Restless Surface: How natural water erosion and wind has shaped the Earth over time.
           

          Orange Zone: Darwin Centre and Wildlife Garden

            • Wildlife Garden: See a diversity of habitats including ponds and downlands.
             

            Overwhelmed by the choice of what to see first? Let us at Yellow Moon Tours take you through the wonders of the Natural History Museum with a private tour. Contact us today.

            3. Interactive and Family-Friendly Activities

            For an immersive and family-friendly adventure at the Natural History Museum, engage in interactive exhibits that cater to all ages. 

            Dive into the Darwin Centre, where interactive displays and live specimens captivate curious minds. In the Investigate Centre, budding scientists can get hands-on with real specimens and explore the wonders of the natural world.

            displays for visiting the natural history museum

            Take advantage of family-focused workshops and educational programs, often available throughout the year. These activities not only entertain but also enrich the learning experience for children and adults alike. 

            Younger visitors will love the Sensational Butterflies exhibit, a seasonal highlight offering a vibrant, interactive experience. The Earthquake Room provides an exciting opportunity to feel the earth move beneath your feet, simulating seismic activity in a safe and controlled environment.

            These interactive and family-friendly offerings are perfect for a family day out with younger ones.

            4. Practical Tips for a Smooth Experience

            As you embark on your wondrous adventure visiting the Natural History Museum, it is important to keep these practical tips in mind for a smooth visiting experience:

            Optimal Timings:

            Plan your visit on weekdays or during off-peak hours to avoid larger crowds. Perhaps consider an early morning arrival for a quieter experience.

            Buy Tickets Online:

            Buy tickets online in advance to skip long queues at the entrance. Make sure to keep an eye out for any exclusive online offers or discounts.

            Map Navigation:

            Make an effort to familiarise yourself with the museum’s layout using the provided map. Plan a route that aligns with your interests, ensuring you cover your preferred exhibits in your planned amount of time.

            Photography:

            Respect the museum’s rules on photography and flash usage in specific areas, as some artefacts and specimens have strict rules on light exposure.

            people visiting the natural history museum

            Many of the most popular displays are prone to photography, however, the more light-sensitive displays in other areas require much more delicacy,

             

            Lunch Time:

            Pack yourself food and snacks or plan a picnic in the museum’s designated areas. There is a nearby dining option available in the form of the Central Cafe on the ground floor. The Anning Rooms, a private lounge, study area, and restaurant are also available to members and patrons on the second floor.

            5. Souvenirs and Continued Exploration

            Visit the museum’s gift shop for a curated selection of unique items, from educational books to dinosaur-themed treasures. Consider purchasing a keepsake, such as a replica fossil or a piece of jewellery inspired by the museum’s exhibits, to commemorate your visit.

            For those hungry for more natural history adventures, stay connected with the museum’s online resources, subscribe to newsletters, or follow their social media channels. 

            Discover upcoming exhibits, events, and educational programs that extend your exploration beyond the physical visit. By taking a piece of the museum home and staying engaged with its ongoing offerings, your Natural History Museum experience becomes a lasting journey that continues to inspire and educate.

            We hope that this guide has given you some insight into how to spend your time at the Natural History Museum in London.

            For inquiries or questions, contact us today at info@yellowmoontours.com or at +02032903665 to book your private tour today or check out our Instagram page.

            Written by Will Jackson for Yellow Moon Tours.

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