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Press release

From Darwin to diamonds: Special Exhibitions and major events for 2005


Special Exhibitions

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004

Travel the world with the winners of this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, seeing the wonders of nature through their eyes. This annual Special Exhibition, organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, showcases the best wildlife pictures taken by photographers worldwide, who emphasise through their work the beauty, drama and variety of life on Earth. Doug Perrine of Hawaii was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004 for his dramatic image Bronze whalers charging a baitball and Gabby Salazar, 17, of North Carolina was named Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004 for her charming image Green anole.

Dates: until 17 April 2005
Location: Jerwood Gallery (Gallery 26)
Admission: £5, £3 concessions, £12 family, FREE to under 5s, NHM Members and NHM Patrons

In partnership with The Royal British Society of Sculptors
Diane Maclean
Sculpture and works on paper

Sculptor and environmental artist Diane Maclean was asked to create a site-specific sculpture installation for the Natural History Museum in response to the Museum’s science, its collection or the building. This exhibition of new work is the result of collaboration between Diane and seven Museum scientists. Since she first began sculpting in the 1980s, Diane Maclean’s work has related to the environment. She has previously participated in numerous shows in Britain, Europe, the Baltic countries and Scandinavia and her sculptures are in many public collections in Britain and also in Lithuania and Finland.

Dates: April–October 2005
Location: west lawn and Gallery 50
Admission: FREE

Face to Face
Photography by James Mollison

James Mollison’s extraordinary images of apes will be exhibited for the first time in Face to Face.

Face to Face will present Mollison’s sensitive photography within the context of Charles Darwin’s theories of human evolution. These beautiful and emotive ape portraits highlight the vitality and intelligence of these magnificent and threatened animals, and their similarity to humans. The exhibition will encourage us to consider our relationship with, and our treatment of, the natural world. A series of related events will give visitors the opportunity to further develop the ideas explored in Face to Face.

Face to Face is supported by Benetton Group S.P.A.

Dates: 28 May – 18 September 2005
Location: Jerwood Gallery (Gallery 26)
Admission: FREE

Diamonds

Step into the glamorous and mysterious world of diamonds and be dazzled by their natural beauty. Experience the uniqueness of each stone’s colour, shape, cut and clarity and discover how diamonds are formed in the depths of the Earth and in stars older than the solar system.

From their discovery in India more than 4,000 years ago to the ‘bling’ culture of the twenty-first century, diamonds have long symbolised wealth, power and status. Made of just carbon, diamond is nature’s hardest substance.

This blockbuster exhibition will showcase some of the world’s most impressive diamonds from stunning historic pieces to the latest in modern designs, alongside cutting-edge science and technology. And for the first time, the Natural History Museum will display its collection from the nineteenth-century ‘diamond rush’.

Diamonds celebrates the natural and cultural power of these extraordinary gemstones and reveals the fascinating story of their evolution from deep in the Earth to the red carpet.

Sponsored by Steinmetz and the Diamond Trading Company.

Dates: 9 July 2005 – 26 February 2006
Location: Gallery 38
Admission: (tbc)

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005

Be inspired by stunning photographs of the natural world. Every picture tells a story, and each image in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is captioned to reveal the tale of how and why it was taken.

Organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition is the most prestigious and successful event of its kind in the world. The competition’s aim is to showcase the very best photographic images of nature to a worldwide audience, showing the splendour, drama and variety of life on Earth and inspiring people to care for its future. In 2004, amateur and professional photographers from 50 countries sent in over 18,500 entries.

For most wildlife photographers, raising awareness of the threats faced by animals, plants and habitats is just as important as capturing the beauty of a moment with perfect composition and timing. There are 11 adult entry categories ranging from The Underwater World and Animal Portraits to Wild Places and In Praise of Plants. The Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition encourages photographers to get involved early with three age categories: 10 years and under, 11–14 years old and 15–17 years old.

Dates: 19 October 2005 – April 2006
Location: Jerwood Gallery (Gallery 26)
Admission: £5, £3 concessions, £12 family, FREE to under 5s, NHM Members and NHM Patrons (tbc)

Online exhibitions

Caught in Oils
The Museum’s collection of oil paintings features some of the great names of natural history art. It includes the only picture of a dodo painted from a live specimen and portraits of fossil hunter Mary Anning, British naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace and the Museum’s first director Sir Richard Owen. This online exhibition brings together part of the Museum’s collection that would otherwise be impossible to put on permanent public display and reveals a hidden side of the Natural History Museum captured on canvas.

Dates: February–April 2005 (exact dates tbc)
Visitor enquiries: Monday–Friday 020 7942 5460
Website: www.nhm.ac.uk/art

Natural History in America
Many of the earliest naturalists to explore the ‘new’ lands of America returned with specimens and drawings of what they encountered. Some of these explorers made great discoveries and have become iconic figures in the history of science. Figures like William Bartram, Mark Catesby, John Abbot, William Young and John James Audubon created thousands of drawings that give us a record of the continent’s fauna and flora. These artworks include depictions of many species now extinct. This online exhibition includes unique proofs of Catesby’s The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands and plates from Audubon’s Birds of America, probably the most valuable book in the world.

Dates: October 2005 – January 2006 (exact dates tbc)
Visitor enquiries: Monday–Friday 020 7942 5460
Website: www.nhm.ac.uk/art

Permanent exhibitions
Dinosaurs, volcanoes, precious gems, creepy crawlies – as a visitor to the Natural History Museum you will be amazed by the diversity of our natural world.

The Museum is home to the nation’s finest collections of natural history specimens and is one of the UK’s top visitor attractions. The Museum’s collection now runs to 70 million plants, animals, fossils, rocks and minerals – many of which are displayed in its fascinating exhibitions and the Darwin Centre.

Highlights include:

  • exploring our Dinosaurs gallery – watch out for the Museum’s new lifelike animatronic coming to the gallery at the end of March
  • entering the Earth Galleries through the giant suspended globe
  •  being a scientist in Investigate – our hands-on education centre where visitors can examine hundreds of real natural history specimens
  • visiting the Wildlife Garden – the Museum’s first living exhibition
  • going behind the scenes and exploring the collections in the Darwin Centre

Museum opening times: Monday to Saturday 10.00–17.50, Sunday 11.00–17.50
Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 5000
Admission: FREE

Darwin Centre
The Darwin Centre is a two-phase project to create state-of-the-art buildings for our collections, which hold over 70 million specimens. These enormous resources, previously only used by scientific researchers and Museum curators, underpin much current research carried out at the Museum.

The Darwin Centre is the only place in the UK where visitors can interact with scientists seven days a week, seeing for themselves how this collection is helping to address contemporary issues, such as the quality of our air, the causes of disease and the maintenance of delicate ecosystems around the world.

Free behind-the-scenes tours
Visitors can explore behind the scenes on a free tour of one of the world’s most extensive natural history collections. See vast storerooms filled with 22 million zoological specimens. Tours leave throughout the day and last approximately 30 minutes. Tickets are free, and a limited number are available in advance at www.nhm.ac.uk/darwincentre (includes booking fee) or on 020 7942 6128 (lines operate 10.00–18.00)

Daily free live events
Visitors can join a varied daily programme of free events, to meet Museum curators and researchers to find out about their work, recent scientific discoveries and the Museum’s vast collections. Darwin Centre Live events are at 14.30 weekdays and 12.00 and 14.30 at weekends. A full listing can be found at www.nhm.ac.uk/darwincentre .

The following series are highlights for 2005:

Whale Week
Sunday 16 to Saturday 22 January

Evolution Week
Saturday 5 to Friday 11 February

Nasty Nature, the Disgusting Side of Life
Saturday 12 to Sunday 18 February

More to come
The Darwin Centre vision will be completed with the opening of Phase Two, scheduled for 2008. The design, by C F Møller Architects, will house the collections within the curving surfaces of a ‘cocoon’, encased within a transparent glass outer structure.

Phase Two’s new storage facilities will safeguard the Museum’s 28 million insects and six million plants, preserving them for generations to come and protecting them from the biggest threat to dry collections – attack from pests. It will also provide new state-of-the-art laboratories for scientists, and give visitor access to these important collections and the fascinating research they support.

A significant fundraising campaign is currently underway to build Phase Two. So far, more than £57 million has been pledged. Major supporters include the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wellcome Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and GlaxoSmithKline.

Darwin Centre location: entrance is via the Mammals galleries (Gallery 23 and 24)
Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 6128 or www.nhm.ac.uk/darwincentre
Admission: FREE

Major Events

Fossil Roadshow
The Natural History Museum comes to Lyme Regis with this year’s Fossil Roadshow. Palaeontologists will be on hand to help identify fossils and reveal the importance of the surrounding Jurassic Coast.

Dates: 8-10 April 2005
Location: Lyme Regis
Admission: FREE

Family Learning Weekend
Join us for a fun weekend of learning about the Museum and all things natural history. From pond-dipping in the Wildlife Garden to animation workshops and much more besides, come and see what you discover. There's something for everyone in the family, from three years and over.

Dates: Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 August
Location: throughout the Museum
Admission: FREE

The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring
Our sister museum in Tring, Hertfordshire, opened in the late 1800s to house the collections of Lionel Walter, second Baron Rothschild. The Museum offers outstanding examples of nineteenth-century taxidermy at its very best and was bequeathed to the nation in 1938. It is now an annexe of the Natural History Museum. The public galleries have been modernised, but the fascinating character of the Museum was retained.

The following exhibitions will take place at Tring in 2005:

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004
This international wildlife photography exhibition continues to stun its visitors with the best images from around the world. Don’t miss this chance to see the exhibition at its first stop outside London.

Dates: 11 December 2004 – 16 January 2005
Location: Gallery 5 and Temporary Exhibition Room
Admission: FREE

Animal Mummies
This exciting new exhibition explores Ancient Egyptian animal mummies and features wrapped cats, a sacred sparrowhawk, mummy X-rays and more. Find out which god was given mummified baboons and how to find a fake mummy!

Dates: 14 February – 3 July 2005
Location: Temporary Exhibition Room
Admission: FREE

The Mating Game
What would you do in the name of love? From red bellies and blue bottoms to dancing displays and even poo-eating, this exhibition will give you a glimpse of the fascinating and often bizarre ways in which creatures of all shapes and sizes attract a mate.

Dates: July–November 2005 (exact dates tbc)
Location: Temporary Exhibition Room
Admission: FREE

Visitor information

Opening hours
The Natural History Museum:
The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum:
Monday–Saturday 10.00–17.50 Monday–Saturday 10.00–17.00
Sunday 11.00–17.50 Sunday 14.00–17.00
Closed 24–26 December Closed 24–26 December

Location
The Natural History Museum The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum
Cromwell Road Akeman Street
London Tring, Herts
SW7 5BD HP23 6AP

Admission
Entry to the Natural History Museum and the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum is free. Prices for Special Exhibitions are listed above.

Visitor enquiries

The Natural History Museum
General enquiries: 020 7942 5000 (Monday to Friday)
020 7942 5511 (Saturday and Sunday)
Darwin Centre enquiries: 020 7942 6128
School party bookings: 020 7942 5555
Website : www.nhm.ac.uk

The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum
Tel: 020 7942 6171
Booking: for event booking forms, please call 020 7942 6163 (lines open Monday–Saturday 10.00–16.00 and Sunday 14.00–16.00)
Website:  www.nhm.ac.uk/museum/tring

Access
The Natural History Museum is accessible to visitors in wheelchairs. For details, please telephone 020 7942 5000. Parking is also available, for details please telephone
020 7942 5888.

The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum has step-free access on the ground floor, café and shop. Parking is also available, for details please telephone 020 7942 6171.

For further information on the Natural History Museum and its collections and Special Exhibitions programme, please contact:

Alison Enticknap, Sarah Hoyle or Becky Chetley on
020 7942 5654 or email: press@nhm.ac.uk (not for publication).

For further information on the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, please contact:

Mairi Allan on 020 7942 5156 or
email wildpress@nhm.ac.uk (not for publication).

For further information on the Darwin Centre and scientific research, please contact:

Jo Glyde or Liz Woznicki on 020 7942 5881 or email darwincentrepress@nhm.ac.uk (not for publication).

For further details about exhibitions and activities at Tring, please contact:

Paul Kitching or Alice Dowswell on 020 7942 6175 or email tring-enquiries@nhm.ac.uk  (not for publication).

Issued November 2004