The Natural History Museum in London
lives in a grand, purpose-built monument that resembles a cathedral in its size and scope. Snakes, birds and bears crawl in stone around pillars and staircases and stained glass windows overlook the visitors below.
The life-size diplodocus replica in the Central Hall steals the limelight, but there’s more to the Natural History Museum than just “Dippy”. Apart from the grandeur of the building itself, there is a petrified tree trunk from Arizona that’s 225 million years old and a coelacanth fish found in 1938 that the world had thought was already extinct.
A statue of Charles Darwin presides over the central staircase, and under the stone arches upstairs, a series of hanging monkeys help explain the theory of evolution.
Added on to the permanent exhibits, the Natural History Museum organizes plenty of fresh temporary exhibitions, from dinosaurs to caterpillars.
In September 2009, the Natural History Museum opened its airy, modern Darwin Centre and Cocoon Tour, adding yet another dimension to this impressive site.
Entry is free to the main museum, although the Natural History Museum usually charges for entry to the temporary exhibits. The nearest underground station is South Kensington. There are basic dining facilities within the museum, but as usual, a better option is to grab a sandwich somewhere else.