Grounds project

An artist's impression of the redeveloped grounds

The Museum is planning an ambitious transformation of its outdoor spaces to create the best possible experience for our 5.5 million annual visitors.

More than half of the world’s population now lives in urbanised areas, giving urban green spaces an ever more important role in connecting us to the natural world.

The new designs will connect our outdoor spaces and support biodiversity, while acknowledging the value of green spaces in cities for both wildlife and our own wellbeing.

From 2023, our existing wildlife garden will be expanded, while three new outdoor zones will be created.

The proposal echoes the principles of the original Waterhouse building, with extinct species represented in the east and living species in the west.

The Square

The corner of Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road is the entrance to the site for many visitors arriving from South Kensington tube station. A beautiful square will offer visitors a place to sit, eat and relax while enjoying the Museum’s surroundings.

Eastern Grounds

On the east side of the building there will be a geological timeline of how life has changed over the long history of the Earth. The area will be landscaped to create a journey back through time, from the origins of life through to the present day.

An artist's impression of the new grounds

An artist's impression of the new grounds © Niall McLaughlin Architects


Western Grounds

To the west of the Museum, our existing wildlife garden will be expanded to cover a space three times its current size. This dedicated green space will create sustainable new habitats and allow visitors to feel closer to nature within the city.

The project team

Niall McLaughlin Architects, with Kim Wilkie, were selected to transform the Natural History Museum’s outdoor areas through a competition run in autumn 2014. They have worked with the Museum to create an innovative design that complements the Waterhouse building and Darwin Centre.


The design for the grounds has been granted planning permission.

View the grounds transformation programme designs PDF (16.7MB).

The Museum will be inviting neighbouring institutions and residents to regular briefings as the design develops.

Building a Museum for the future

Find out about our plans to transform how, where and when you can experience our work.

Prioritising nature

'We are prioritising nature, recognising the value of urban green spaces for both wildlife and human wellbeing.

'By creating an inspirational outdoor experience for all to enjoy, the living natural world becomes an integral part of visiting the Museum for more than five million people a year.'

- Sir Michael Dixon, Museum Director

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