The hunt for treasures is on, this weekend

22 November 2012

This weekend, anyone in London is in with a chance to win an exclusive party in the Natural History Museum's new Treasures Cadogan Gallery, if they take part in a city-wide treasure hunt.

Visit the Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs and collect a rubbing of the Treasures specimen

Visit the Crystal Palace Park dinosaurs and collect a rubbing of the Treasures Hunt specimen.

Treasures: The Hunt is celebrating the opening of the new permanent public gallery on 30 November, which will display 22 of the most extraordinary Museum specimens

On the weekend of 24 and 25 November anyone can search for 12 of the 22 specimens - drawings not the real things - hidden in locations around London that have natural history connections. You don't need to find all 12, just one is enough to enter the draw.

From Battersea and the Tower of London to Crystal Palace Park and Trafalgar Square, each location has a display stand with a raised drawing representing one of the specimens. Take a crayon rubbing of any of them, and you can enter into a draw to win an exclusive evening party for you and 25 friends in this special gallery.

You can download the map with all of the locations and a collection sheet, and you discover the specimens when you arrive at each place. 

Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum said, ‘The Hunt celebrates the sense of discovery and adventure that has brought so many of the Treasures specimens to the Museum'.

This dinosaur tooth helped inspire the idea that giant reptiles once walked the Earth

This dinosaur tooth helped inspire the idea that giant reptiles once walked the Earth. It will be on display in the new Treasures Cadogan Gallery.

Crystal Palace park

One of the 12 locations hidden in a corner of a south London park is the Crystal Palace dinosaurs. They were built between 1852 and 1854 and were the first life-size models of extinct animals ever made, astonishing the many people who came to visit them at that time. 

They were designed by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, with the help of Richard Owen who later became the first Superintendant of the Museum. 

Among the dinosaurs will be a stand where you can collect your rubbing of a fossilised Iguanodon tooth. The fossil was the first clue that giant reptiles had once roamed the Earth, leading Owen to devise the name 'dinosauria' (terrible lizards).

As new discoveries about extinct animals were made it became clear that the Crystal Palace dinosaurs were not scientifically correct. However, they are now seen as an interesting depiction of what the Victorians thought about prehistoric creatures.

Rare fossil Archaeopteryx, the dino-bird, looked after at the Museum

Rare fossil of Archaeopteryx, the 'dino-bird', looked after at the Museum. It lived 147 million years ago and was a magpie-sized insect-eating bird with dinosaur-like features.

The fossilised Iguanodon tooth along with a portrait of Richard Owen will be on display in the Treasures Cadogan Gallery.

Trafalgar Square

Another location to find one of the treasures is the world-famous Trafalgar Square. Here you will find a rubbing of Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird and a famous snapshot of evolution in action. This 'Mona Lisa' of specimens will also be on display in the Treasures Cadogan Gallery.

Archaeopteryx sums up the amazing variety of prehistoric creatures that once roamed the planet. Even in urban areas such as Trafalgar Square, building works have dug up bison, a spotted hyena, parts of a hippopotamus, tiny fragments of a brown bear and the remains from at least 2 woolly mammoths. In 1957, more excavations revealed a mountain lion and an extinct elephant!

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