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Press release

The Natural History Museum's new website encourages a voyage of discovery

The Natural History Museum's new website is the place to learn about the natural world. Whether planning a visit to the Museum, learning more about its dramatic architecture, playing games, discovering Britain's biodiversity or understanding the work of the Museum's scientists, www.nhm.ac.uk is rapidly becoming the website of choice, with almost eight million visits last year.

In recognition of the website's improved look and structure, with a new template system that offers increased accessibility and a consistent look, the Museum has been shortlisted for the British Interactive Media Association's (BIMA) 2005 Awards in the best charity / not for profit website category. The announcement of the winners will be made in November 2005.

The Natural History Museum was the first national museum to create a website in 1994. It has expanded to become a vital information portal for visitors, scientists and enthusiasts wishing to learn about the natural world. The site ensures the experience of the Museum continues beyond its walls and that visitors can enjoy their journey of discovery at home.

After 10 years of continual growth, the structure of the website needed to be overhauled to improve navigation and the visitor experience, and the launch of the Museum's new brand in October 2004 was the perfect time to do so. Now every user, regardless of technical ability and access requirements, can access more than 15,000 pages and more than one million records. 

New additions to the site include:

  • Teachers' resource: search the site and our galleries for information covering Key Stages 1-4 on a variety of subjects including geography, science, art and design, citizenship, history and mathematics. The Museum has a wide selection of online resources, with learning outcomes, which teachers can use in the classroom.
  • Parent's survival guide: browse useful advice while planning a visit, from suitable footwear to places to eat. The facility also suggests areas in the Museum that are good for children of different ages.
  • Nature online: an area aimed at the natural enthusiast. It covers life, earth, space, biodiversity, British natural history and the Museum's research. The Global Reach Map is an interactive world map with in-depth information about the research projects scientists at the Museum are working on across the globe. Two popular areas in particular are Dino Directory - a guide to 163 of the most well-described dinosaurs - and the Postcode Plants Database, which identifies trees, shrubs and flowers in your local area.
  • Kids only: younger kids can enjoy a number of ways to discover nature. Interactive games uncover how volcanoes work, what kind of dinosaur you could be or how to collect and identify species. Live webcasts give an inside view into the Museum's ant colony, wildlife pond and our flesh-eating beetles at work.
  • PDA/web architecture multimedia tour: This is a new and easy-to-use hand-held computer tour that uncovers the story behind this landmark building as you walk around. Narrated by Andrew Sachs and using videos, images and archive material, it explores the building designed by Alfred Waterhouse, its historical and social context and the science conducted behind the scenes today. A bookmarking facility allows visitors to highlight areas of interest and to continue this remarkable journey at home via the website.
  • Shop online: We have recently launched our brand new online shopping facility. There is now a huge range of Natural History Museum licensed products and other key items from our shop that are available for purchase online. Browse through the different sections such as 'Fashion and Jewellery', 'Home, Garden and Pets', 'Children' and, of course, 'Books', online visitors can also buy membership to the museum.  
    The system is being developed to intergrate fully with the software currently used by the shop, the membership department and the ticketing office. This is unique within the Museum sector.
  • Research and curation: to service the needs of the Museum's 300 scientists, a database of science projects has been compiled. There's a directory of our scientists, which will later be enhanced by the launch of a CV directory. The Museum's website continues to develop more than 50 scientific databases of the Museum's collections.

Future plans will see the Museum offering new activities to engage our audience, such as monitoring British biodiversity and feeding results into national surveys.

Notes for editors

  • Winner of the 2004 Large Visitor Attraction of the Year award, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with groundbreaking projects in 68 countries. The Museum is committed to encouraging public engagement with science. This has been greatly enhanced by the Darwin Centre, a major new initiative, which offers visitors unique access behind the scenes of the Museum. Phase One of the project opened to the public in 2002 and Phase Two is scheduled to open in 2008.
  • The Natural History Museum's website was tested throughout its development by Bunnyfoot Universality. The site is based on a library of 25 templates, which were developed by the Museum and Graphico to work within Percussion Software's Rhythmyx Enterprise Content Management system.. The Other Media assisted the Museum in developing the online shopping solution.
For further information please telephone +44 (0)20 7942 5654 or email press@nhm.ac.uk