Natural History Museum

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naturehistorical Museum
Natural History Museum London Jan 2006.jpg
Natural History Museum, London
place London , England Coordinates: 51 ° 29 '47.1 "  N , 0 ° 10' 34.8"  W.World icon
opening 1881

The Natural History Museum (German Natural History Museum ) in London is one of the largest natural history museums in the world.

It is one of three museums on Exhibition Road in the London borough of South Kensington . It is housed in a Romanesque-Byzantine style building from 1860. The museum, together with the Geological Museum of wants the relationships in nature demonstrate and show how the people of the resources of the earth depend.

Traditionally, the museum grants visitors (apart from a few special exhibitions) free entry. Every year around 5 million people visit the museum.


Main hall of the Natural History Museum

When the Museum ( Natural History Museum ) opened on April 18, 1881, it was part of the British Museum and was officially called the British Museum (Natural History) . Some of the exhibits come from famous collections from the 18th century. The natural history collection of the physicist and curiosity collector Sir Hans Sloane , which he bequeathed to the British nation in 1753, formed the basis of the British Museum. Unique pieces from Sloane's collection can still be seen there today, especially in the rooms of the exhibition on the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century ( Enlightment Galleries ). When other important natural history collections were bequeathed to the British Museum, including the collection brought back by the botanist Joseph Banks from his voyage with Captain James Cook on HMS Endeavor from 1768–1771 , there was insufficient space to display them. The zoologist and paleontologist Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892), director of the natural history department of the British Museum, convinced the government of the need for a new building. He pursued the ambitious plan to show the different species in related groups and to exhibit typical representatives with characteristic features.

The architect captain Francis Fowke won the architectural competition . When he died in 1865, the contract was awarded to the young architect Alfred Waterhouse from Manchester . Waterhouse changed Fowke's design from the Renaissance to Neo-Romanesque (based on the cathedral buildings of the German Romanesque) and created the Waterhouse building in its current form. In 1883 the mineralogy and natural history collections were in their current location. It was not until 1963 that the collections were given official status as an independent museum. In 1988 a connection to the Geological Museum was created and the two museums were united.

Exhibits and attractions

The museum houses around 70 million different objects, including numerous dinosaur skeletons , fossils (including an Archeopteryx ), exhibits from flora and fauna , such as the 30-meter-long skeleton of a blue whale or the model of the dodo, which died out around 1690 . In addition, in cooperation with the Geological Museum, the largest meteorite collection in the world is housed here. The creation of the earth is shown in the "Earth Galleries" . You can safely experience a simulated volcanic eruption or an earthquake. One of the museum's biggest attractions is the Tyrannosaurus rex , a robot that behaves lifelike and snaps and roars at visitors.

Life Galleries

In the Life Galleries (exhibitions of life) there are exhibitions of fish , molluscs , crustaceans , amphibians and reptiles , insects , mammals and birds , as well as fossil marine life, British fossils, exhibitions on ecology , evolution , but also minerals and meteorites . The world of plants with their benefits for humans as well as human biology is given a special priority. A simulation represents the perception of a baby in the womb.

Earth Galleries

The Earth Galleries (exhibitions about the earth) on the upper floors can be reached via an escalator that leads through a gigantic replica of our earth. The impact of humans on the earth is shown in order to stimulate reflection in the direction of sustainable use. From the Big Bang to the future of the earth, a wide arc is drawn along a timeline. Minerals , ores and rocks are shown in their forms and presented in their use for humans. The forces of nature are explained using the examples of an earthquake and a volcanic eruption and partially simulated. The formation of the Himalayas and the formation of a stalagmite are explained and illustrated. The museum also houses one of the world's largest meteorite collections and a meteorite exhibition.

Darwin Center

In the Darwin Center (Darwin Center) all known species of the earth be gathered. The namesake Charles Darwin created the beginnings of this collection. Labels handwritten by him still adorn the first items in the collection. A specimen of the coelacanth is also preserved here. So far there was only the so-called wet collection here. The buildings for the dry collection were only opened in winter 2008. Scientists can take a look at the collection by prior arrangement.

Wildlife garden

The garden is next to the west lawn of the museum. The Wildlife Garden offers a rest area with thousands of British plants and animals.


The museum's more than 300 scientists are still doing research today and take part in major expeditions, often in connection with international and interdisciplinary projects. This involves expanding collections, describing and classifying new species , but also researching global problems such as environmental pollution , the preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems . The museum's scientists are also active in the field of marine research . Chris Stringer , one of the leading exponents of the so-called out-of-Africa theory of the tribal history of modern humans ( Homo sapiens ), became internationally known .

Web links

Commons : Natural History Museum, London  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Natural History Museum in the Encyclopædia Britannica