Exploring the London Museum of Natural History

In a word – Awesome!

It’s hard to complain about museums in London – most of the bigger ones are free – and with an under 10 GPB budget a day – free is great. But just because they are free doesn’t mean they should be poorly laid out and boring.

We have high expectations of museums – and the London Museum of Natural History is a winner. And Free. Now that’s a tough combination to beat.

One slight negative – the cloakroom charges 2.5 GBP to keep your stuff – so pack light – and don’t say I didn’t warn you. The other museums have a ‘suggested’ donation of 2 to 4 GBP – but at the Natural History Museum, there’s no politely ignoring the sign. You must pay.

On to the muesum.

There are so many sections to love about this museum, and we carefully toured every section that wasn’t full of glass displays of stuffed animals – where the museum got it’s start. There’s the section on Earthquakes and the planet Earth – reached by an escaltor that asscends thru a sulpture of the Planet. The highlight of this section is the Kobe Grocery store that is destroyed by an Earthquake – while you stand inside. Noisy and very cool. Other interesting and very hands-on displays in this section involved looking at volcanoes, touching rocks, and studing potential early warning systems. Very well done.

Then there’s the justifiably famous Dinosaur Exhibt. Not your every day display of dinosaur bones either. There are two audio-animatronics that would make Disney proud – including an outstanding T-Rex that turns his head, studies the room, and then picks someone to snarl at! I found almost all of this section fascinating, and I’ve been to Drumheller in Alberta – I know dinosaur displays. This one is close to perfect.

The Creepy Crawly section on 4 broad categories of insects is another winner. We particularly loved the full sized house that showed how insects can have a negative impact on your home. Yuck. Watch out for that giant wasp nest – and nope – we didn’t think cockroaches were good for us at all. But the best laugh was the pasta with extra protein. That’s a positive spin on a negative subject.

Another excellent section – and one that I have since found myself quoting sections of to the Intrepid Traveler is the massive display titled Human Biology. We expected boring – and found anything but boring. At the beginning there’s a 8 times normal size infant in the womb – the detail is amazing. Even more interesting were the sections on human learning, and on human behavior. In the learning section, there are videos of babies who are at the age when a toy that is out of sight is out of mind, followed by videos a few weeks later of the same baby – now old enough to realize that when you cover a toy with a towel, the toy is still there! So well done. But the section that really ‘hit home’ with me was the part on adreline. Short videos showed people getting scared – then the video would go on to explain what happened – dilatied eyes, sweating, rapid heart beat etc. Ok, that’s cool. But then the very next day I tripped and fell onto the road. Dilated eyes, sweating, rapid heart beat, dizzy, and unable to stand. Hey – I just got hit with an adreline attack! Talk about taking learning to a new and highly applicable level!

Bottom line – this is a wonderful museum, and you don’t need to be a child to appreciate it. There’s a ton of stuff that even the most jaded adult will have to say – “Hey, I didn’t know that”. And it’s fun to explore too. Just don’t expect a nice quiet museum environment – until about 2:00 PM it’s packed, packed, packed with kids. Only after 2:00 does it quiet down. We decided that by 2:00 the school trips end, and the kids with parents are all tuckered out.

Our plans for tonight are simple – home, quick dinner, and bed.

Well – quick dinner on a budget means a 45 minute tube ride, followed by walking 15 minutes to the nearest grocery store, buying a roast chicken (5.6 GPB, enough for two meals), and then walking back home. Basically dinner wasn’t ready until 8:00 PM – but hey – nothing to do after that but bed down for the night.

Signing off – The Soup Lady and the Intrepid Traveler.

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