Natural History Museum

Whale skeleton

A rather Vorlonish-looking whale skeleton.

On my second Sunday here (so the day after the RAF Museum, I'm way behind here), I travelled out to South Kensington to visit the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, which are right next to each other (and the Victoria and Albert is conveniently located just across the road, but will have to wait for another day). The NHM (opened 1881) is one of the great natural history museums of the world, and its creation (for a long time, as a semi-independent arm of the British Museum) on such a grand scale is a testament to the importance of the life and earth sciences in Victorian Britain. The architecture alone is powerful:

Natural History Museum

According to Wikipedia, terracotta was chosen for the exterior because of its resistance to London's soot, though bits of it need a scrubbing:

Snakes and gargoyle

Inside the cathedral of science, the massive Central Hall nearly dominates the actual exhibits ...

Central Hall

... but not quite. Here's the famous Diplodocus skeleton which greets visitors.


There are of course many other dinosaurs, in a long atmospherically-gloomy-but-not-great-for-photography gallery (which is why I've got more pictures of the architecture than the exhibits), including this Hypsilophodon (aww, look at the cute claws):


And an Albertosaurus -- I like the contrast between the ferocious prehistoric monster and the rather more sedate decorative styling on the ceiling.


The highlight of the Large Mammal Hall is undoubtedly the life-size model of the largest mammal of them all, the blue whale, bigger than anything the dinosaurs managed to come up with. (Points and laughs at the Cretaceous.)

Blue whale and friends

Finally, T. H. Huxley and Charles Darwin sternly watching over the cafe, presumably making sure we're all still evolving.

Huxley and Darwin

As always, I only saw less than half the museum, so I may be back. Up next: the Science Museum, including more aeroplanes I'm afraid!

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