Essential Guide to Visiting Natural History Museum
With more than five million visitors every year, the Natural History Museum is the capital’s fourth most-visited museum, not far behind the British Museum, Tate Modern and National Gallery. The building started in 1873 and to this day its purpose remains the same: to challenge how people think about the natural world’s past, present and future.
The museum is also dedicated to scientific research, a world-class research centre, and right now they’re planning an awe-inspiring new look for the spaces outside the building. Their website is always stacked with fascinating science news, based on the latest research, and they also hold a variety of exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year and art exhibitions, behind the scenes tours and free Nature Live shows every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There are regular late-night events to enjoy, including an all-night sleepover for adults, and they even hold a silent disco under Hope, the massive whale in the main hall.
If you’d like to place the museum at the heart of your visit to London, why not stay in one of our nearby easyHotels? The nearest easyHotels to the Natural History Museum are our South Kensington hotel and our Paddington hotel. We’ll see you soon!
Natural History Museum Facts
- The museum celebrates its 140th birthday in 2021
- It started off with a collection sold to the museum by the doctor Sir Hans Sloane, which included an enormous number of biological treasures
- The collection includes more than 70 million botanical items, 55 million animal exhibits, 9 million archaeological bits and bobs, and more than half a million chunks of rock and mineral
- Dippy the 26m Diplodocus was cast from an American specimen and was first exhibited in 1905
- Originally part of the British Museum, the Natural History Museum got its own building in 1881
- Francis Fowke kicked off the original design of the building, the same man who designed the Royal Albert Hall and the Victoria & Albert Museum. He died in 1865 and Albert Waterhouse took over, creating a new design that was nothing like Fowke’s original
- In the early days, the exhibits suffered thanks to unqualified staff. A certain George Shaw was determined to destroy any shell not mentioned in a particular scientific text, and another ignorant employee removed the labels from insects because they were identified by a rival. One librarian did their very best to stop the public seeing the exhibits altogether
- It was called the British Museum (Natural History) until 1992
- It’s funded by the government and also by public and private donations
- The Museum has three entrances, one on Cromwell Road, one on Exhibition Road and one at Queen’s Gate
What time does the Natural History Museum open and close?
What to see at the Natural History Museum
What is the Natural History Museum London price for entry? It’s amazing… but it’s actually free. You can spend all day here and entry won’t cost you a penny except when there are extra charges for new exhibits. If there are 10 or more of you and you want to visit during busy times, you can book a group ticket for a dedicated time of entry and avoid the queues.
Prices and essential information
The Natural History Museum isn’t broken down into floors but has been turned into zones, each with a different focus.
- The Blue Zone includes the incredible diversity of life on our lovely blue planet, everything from dinosaurs to mammals. You’ll see the world-famous blue whale model, learn the story of fishes, amphibians and reptiles, find out all about marine invertebrates, see some spectacular images of nature and take a peep at human biology – because you’re amazing, too!
- The Green Zone tracks the evolution of our planet, including the chance to walk underneath a massive blue whale skeleton. There’s Hintze Hall, revealing 4.5 billion years of natural history, the Birds Gallery, creepy crawlies and minerals, fossils marine reptiles and a very special exhibition of natural treasures. The Vault reveals some of the natural world’s most unique objects, plus your chance to investigate exhibits for yourself, and there are a cool Fossils from Britain exhibit as well.
- The Red Zone is all about taking a journey through the extraordinary Earth Sculpture exhibit, including one of the best-preserves stegosaurus skeletons ever found and a fab show about volcanoes and earthquakes. Here you can trace human evolution, marvel at earth’s treasury of precious stones, explore life from the very beginning, and create lasting impressions thanks to awe-inspiring fossil evidence about long-ago events.
The Natural History Museum is open from 10am to 5.30pm most days. The last entry time is half-past five and it’s closed every year from 24th – 26th December for Christmas.
Good restaurants near the Natural History Museum London include Raison D’Etre at 18 Bute Street, a cosy and casual cafe. Pappa Roma Pizzeria, Restaurant and Bar is located at 6 Glendower Place, well known for superb pizza. Honest Burgers in South Kensington, at 24 Thurloe Street, does epic hamburgers. Cafe Rouge on Buckingham Palace Road, serves French classics, and Apero Restaurant and Bar at 2 Harrington Road creates gorgeous Mediterranean cuisine.
Where is the Natural History Museum in London?
How to get to the Natural History Museum London? It’s so central you won’t have any problems.
Walking – This is one of the most exciting and attractive areas to walk and explore, the perfect way to find out more about this grand city than you possibly could using public transport or in a car. Grab an A-Z or an app and give your legs a treat!
Underground – Your closest underground train station is South Kensington, with access to the District, Piccadilly and Circle lines. It’s just five minutes’ walk from the museum’s Exhibition Road entrance. Gloucester Road tube is also handy, on the same tube lines, and is also just 5 minutes’ walk away, this time from the Queen’s Gate entrance.
Bus – Bus numbers 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430 and C1 stop near the museum.
Bicycle – You’ll find cycle racks on Exhibition Road. The nearest Barclays Cycle Hire place is just outside the museum’s Exhibition Road entrance and there’s another at Thurloe Place, near South Kensington Tube station.