Get ready to experience the Natural History Museum’s metamorphosis when the landmark new Darwin Centre opens to the public on 15 September 2009
The Natural History Museum will throw open the doors of the Darwin Centre to the public on 15 September 2009 and one of the highlights will be Cocoon, a journey deep into the 65-metre-long, eight-storey-high cocoon at the heart of the Darwin Centre. Here, you will discover some of the 20 million plants and insects protected by this enormous cocoon – from huge tarantulas to metre-high poisonous plants – and for the first time see into the hidden world of scientific research, where real Museum scientists work on cutting-edge research that could help protect the future of our planet.
Up to 2,500 people a day will travel through Cocoon to see some of the Darwin Centre’s 220 scientists in action working in high-tech laboratories, preparing thousands of real specimens or working amongst the 3.3km of cabinets that hold the millions of plants and insects. Through viewing decks, video and intercom, visitors will get an uninhibited snapshot into these once concealed spaces at the Museum.
Entrance to the Darwin Centre will be free. Advance booking for timed slots opens today for visitors wanting to be among the first to experience Cocoon by calling 020 7942 5725 or visiting the Museum. Online booking is coming soon at www.nhmshop.co.uk
Scientists in action
Encounters with real scientists through Cocoon will give you insight into how Museum scientists travel to discover and name new species, prepare specimens and organise collections that are being used to help fight malaria or react to climate change:
Diversity of life
The Natural History Museum has over 70 million plant, animal and mineral specimens in its collection. In the Darwin Centre alone, the cocoon will safeguard 17 million insect and three million plant specimens in world-class storage conditions. On your journey through Cocoon you will see more than 500 real insects and plants on display, including:
Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, comments, ‘For many years, hundreds of Natural History Museum scientists have been working behind the scenes to better understand our planet. Now, through the Darwin Centre, not only will our visitors really understand for the first time why the work of our scientists is so important, they will actually be able to interact with real specimens and real scientists, which we hope will really bring the experience to life for them. With so many issues facing the planet at this time, we hope that visitors will go away with a real sense of awe and wonder at nature, a better understanding of why the work of the Natural History Museum is so relevant, now more than ever, and be inspired to share in our collective responsibility over the future of the planet.’
In addition to real specimens and scientists, Cocoon will also feature over 40 high-tech installations and hands-on interactive activities that introduce you to many other Museum scientists, their work and its relevance to us all.
Cocoon is supported by GlaxoSmithKline and Anglo American. As leaders in their fields they support the Darwin Centre’s mission to promote the development of knowledge, understanding and skills that are needed to make sound decisions about the science-related issues we face everyday.
If you want to keep up to date with Darwin Centre developments ahead of the opening on 15 September and find out what’s on at the Museum, sign up now to our monthly enewsletter at www.nhm.ac.uk/enews
Darwin Centre visitor information
Dates: open from 15 September 2009
Opening times: every day, 10.00–17.50 (last admission to Cocoon 17.00)
Admission: free, to book timed tickets for Cocoon call 020 7942 5725
Nearest tube: South Kensington