One of the many fun places you may visit in London is the Museum of Natural History. Located in the South Kensington neighborhood, you will find it situated just next to the Victoria and Albert (V and A) Museum right next door. This museum can be an especially popular draw for families and school children, my recommendation to avoid crowds is to go early or to go late. The museum is typically open seven days a week from 10 to 5 in the afternoon, but check hours and dates just in case. It is closed December 24-26.
Admission and Security
Admission to many of London’s museums is “free.” You will be expected to make a donation, but are not required to. I would encourage you to drop in a 5 GBP note if you can spare it. When I went last year, the museum conducted a bag check before entering the facility ans asked anything larger than a small purse be checked in the bag check. Note that rolling luggage is not permitted inside the museum and you will be asked to check it before entering.
Now with the ongoing global pandemic, tickets must be booked to the museum in advance. They can be obtained here for free. Groups are limited to six people through 5 September. Face coverings are required and for anyone over the age of 16 you will be asked to provide your contact information.
The museum can easily be reached by Tube, Taxi, Bus, or walking.
Layout and What to See
No matter which entrance you utilize, your eyes will likely go right to the blue whale magnificent specimen that lines the ceiling of the entrance hall. This is indeed a true to life sized skeleton of the giants from the deep. If you have visited in the past, you may remember a large brontosaurus specimen, it was replaced by the blue whale in 2017.
The museum is divided up into 4 color coded galleries: blue, green, red, and orange. From the main entrance hallway you will be able to decide where to begin.
Having a Plan of Attack
It can be relatively overwhelming to figure out where to begin. As such, I would start with the Dinosaurs, the most popular area, and work your way through the blue zone and mammal hall. The blue zone feeds into the orange and can be the perfect way to break up your visit. I found myself hungry for a snack after viewing the mammals and wasn’t too interested in insects and Darwin Center. There were a few too many school groups for my liking. After I headed to the cafe, I tackled the red and green zones. Depending on your interests in gems and birds, you may find yourself not spending as much time on the upper levels of the museum. It never hurts to wonder through.
Snacks and Shopping
There is no eating in the exhibit area, but the museum does have a nice cafe. The selection can be a bit pricey, but worth a splurge if you are hungry. You will find a selection of hot and cold beverages, sandwiches, salads, wraps, and pastries. If the indoors is a bit too chaotic, the outdoor dining area may be a better option. I couldn’t find a seat on my last visit and opted to stand by the wall and enjoy my coffee and a cookie. These options are in the red and blue zones.
The museum shop is in the red zone just by the cafe. It is worth looking over their excellent selection of items. I found several one-of-a-kind books and posters to take home.
The museum has something for everyone. If the exhibits fail to impress you, the building will. I would recommend a minimum of three hours of walking around. Wear comfy shoes. If you feel as if you have missed an exhibit, yoy may always circle back around to it. There are a number of special exhibits that cost extra, tickets might require an advance book. Check the museum website for the most up to date information.