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February is such a short month I can hardly believe that it’s time for our Lates with MasterCard again. But here we are and it’s looking like a really fun line-up. This month we have our first late night opening of Extinction: Not the End of the World? our latest special exhibition taking a look at the role of extinction in the evolution of life.

 

I had the chance to look around it just before it opened and can honestly say I was blown away. There are some fantastic specimens and fascinating interactives, including videos on conservation work, voting booths where you can have your say on big questions relating to extinction and an extinction computer game (that I probably spent far too long playing!).

 

Special exhibitions usually sell out at Lates but if you book early and bag yourself a ticket I’d recommend you spend a bit of time reading messages on the ‘wishing tree’, a place designed for visitors to write down their thoughts about life on Earth and leave them for others to see.

 

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Of course this month also is the time of year that we bid a fond farewell to Wildlife Photographer of the Year at Lates. This Friday is your last chance to see the amazing photos from this year’s competition after hours so if you haven’t seen it yet and would like to, this could be your chance. It’s hard to choose a favourite image amongst such an impressive and diverse selection of photos but I think the one that stands out for me is the commended ‘Relaxation’ by Jasper Doest (below).

 

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But Lates isn’t all about the exhibitions. This month our Crazy Artistes are back to put your speed-sketching skills to the test with real Museum specimens. Find them in the galleries and see if you can draw a dinosaur skull or a badger in just ten minutes. They’ve been squirrelling away prizes from all over the Museum so who knows, you might even win something.

 

We’ve also got a truly fascinating discussion event taking place in the Museum’s Restaurant. Addressing huge questions about extinction, this month’s we'll be considering whether or not we could, or indeed should, bring extinct species back from the dead.

 

Bringing Back the Dead has three brilliant expert speakers and you’ll be able to have your say and ask questions directly to the experts. Charlotte in our Nature Live team has been busy preparing the content and you can read more about it on the Nature Live blog here.

 

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Once again, our increasingly popular open mic night will be returning in Central Hall. I’m getting more and more emails from musicians wanting to play and now spend most of my lunchtimes watching spectacularly talented people performing on YouTube. We’ve narrowed it down to our favourite eleven for this month and some of their videos are below. Make sure you check them out below.

 

So, if you’re free on Friday (and even if you aren’t) you should definitely pop along and visit us at Lates. We’d be delighted to see you there!

 

More information about Lates with MasterCard

 

Andy Glynn

 

 

Miranda Quammie is a singer, songwriter, piano player and native of Stoke Newington who combines elements of folk, classical and pop to captivating effect on her debut album, Tempest.

 

 

 

Acoustic London-based duo, August and After, weave abundant vocal harmonies onto a bed of intricate guitar arrangements and story-telling lyricism.

 


 

Ki Yoshi is a soulful singer-songwriter from Camden.

 

 

 

Australian born singer/songwriter/guitarist/ukulele enthusiast Angela Ashby brings joyful acoustic melodies with occasional rocking rhythms to your ears.

 

 

 

Hailing from the south coast, Tom Bradley blends his laid back beach sounds with his soulful vocals, drawing comparisons to the likes of Jack Johnson and Paolo Nutini. His songs range from reggae tinged summer anthems, to harmony-laden Fleetwood Mac throwbacks.

 

 

 

Winnet’s background as ballet dancer and actress gives her a unique charismatic quality as a performer on stage, which compels her audiences and embellishes both the style and subject of each song. This coupled with her own individual vocal timbre marks her as a tremendous new comer to the business. An utter delight to watch.

 

 

 

Bluesy, big-voiced singer-songwriter Hayley Tucker writes songs with a story. Accompanying herself on her acoustic guitar, expect some folky soul with sass.

 

 

 

Ben Lim writes and sings songs, only to slow his inevitable transformation into a robot, by way of his day job.

 

 

Also playing is:

 

  • Sophie Kilburn, a singer-songwriter originally from the Derbyshire Dales who describes her own unique style as a blend of Adele, Eva Cassidy and Lily Allen.
  • Autumn Fox, an acoustic songwriter from Memphis Tennessee promising to bring a flavour of the south into folk / pop music
  • Singer-songwriter R P Williams.
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2012 was an amazing year for our monthly Lates with MasterCard event. We had spectacular special exhibitions, we launched our open-mic night in the Central Hall and introduced a popular speed-sketching activity with the Crazy Artists.

 

Our final Lates of 2012 in November saw our highest visitor numbers ever with over 4,000 people attending and we’ve been collecting lots of feedback about how we can make the event even better.

 

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(Click images to see them full size)

 

So with your suggestions in mind, we’ve made some changes to the 2013 event to ensure everyone has a brilliant Friday night at the Museum.

 

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Many of you wanted to visit the beautiful and imposing blue whale after hours and we have listened so, this month, we are opening the Mammals (blue whale) gallery at Lates for the first time in two years.

 

Our lovely sponsors are adding to the updated event by introducing an exclusive MasterCard cocktail bar in the Images of Nature gallery. If you have one, just flash your MasterCard and you and one guest will be able to get in and enjoy some delicious mixes.

 

We’re gearing up to the opening of our newest exhibition, Extinction: Not the End of the World? next month and so have been busy preparing a fascinating discussion event to kickstart the proceedings. So, on Friday, we have three experts debating the potential for human extinction and you’ll get the chance to ask your questions and meet the experts. You can find out more and book tickets here.

 

The ever popular Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is open until 22.30. It usually sells out well in advance for Lates with just a handful of walk-up tickets available on the night, so make sure you book early to see the exhibition in the evening.

 

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This month’s line-up of open-mic artists is as strong as ever with performances by The Chain, Peter and Susanna, Justin Manville, Two of a Kind, Marian Woods, Andy Kempster, Adam Black and Fran Taylor. You can get a sneak peek of some of their music by checking out the videos below.

 

So we hope you enjoy this month’s Lates and if you have suggestions for activity you’d like to see at future events you can always email them to the team at after-hours@nhm.ac.uk.

 

Check out the website for a full rundown of everything open at Lates on Friday.

 

Andy Glynn

 

 

 

 

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So summer’s definitely over, but autumn brings with it our spectacular Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

 

This Friday 26 October's Lates with MasterCard is the first late opening of the exhibition and what an exhibition it is! If you haven’t had a peek at the line-up of winning images, you can do so on our online gallery but there’s nothing quite like seeing the full show so make sure you get your tickets early for this Friday if you’re planning on coming along.

 

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Paul Nicklen's Bubble-jetting emperors is the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year winner. Get up close to this and 99 other prize-winning photographs in the exhibition open late on Friday evening.

 

This month we’re bringing back our increasingly popular Open-mic in the Central Hall and we’ve got 11 awesome performers. They’ll be playing from 7pm until 10.30pm and we’ve got a fantastic mix of artists. With everything from country to rock and pop it’s bound to be a great night. Get a taste of one of the performers, Marie Naffah, in this video, and see some of the other performers' videos at the end of this blog.

 

 

This month we also have some really exciting activities going on at Lates. Join our discussion event exploring the pitfalls and possibilities of a manned mission to Mars in our unique event, Should We Go To Mars? This event is ticketed and you need to book online in advance.

 

Our amazing half-term Campsite event will be opening an evening early for a special preview. With film screenings in campervans, human-sized cabinets where you can label yourself a specimen and a real polar tent in the mix, you can have yourself an indoor-outdoor adventure in the Darwin Centre. The Campsite will be open from 7pm – 9.30pm.

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Get a taste of the Campsite mobile festival of campervans, caravans and pop-up tents, arriving here on Friday evening. Right, join the crazy artists for some entertaining speed-sketching.

We’re also saying bonsoir to our Crazy Artists who are back and crazier than ever with a night of speed-sketching that will knock your socks off.  Can you sketch a squirrel in 10 minutes? Or draw a dinosaur? Or paint a porpoise? The Artists are here to put your skills to the test. Every 15 minutes between 19.00 and 21.00 the artists will bring out a specimen from the Museum’s collections. You’ll have 10 minutes to draw it before they cast their expert eyes over your work and choose a winner to take home a Natural History Museum prize.

 

If all that wasn’t enough, we’re opening the Dinosaur gallery, and you can get into the Halloween spirit in the Creepy Crawlies gallery, which is open for the the first time ever at Lates,

 

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Satisfy your curiosity about locusts (above), ants, butterflies, crabs, spiders, termites and 1000s of their relatives in the Green Zone's Creepy Crawlies gallery.

 

And with all that going on you’re bound to be peckish, so why not warm up with our tasty new pop-up restaurant menu? Featuring venison and wild boar stew, dumplings and mashed potato, you won’t be hungry for long.

 

So it looks like this is going to be one of our busiest Lates ever and I hope you all enjoy it. As always, if you do come along, please let us know what you think on the night or you can email the team at after-hours@nhm.ac.uk.

 

Andy Glynn

Visitor Events Manager


Open-mic performers at this month's Lates

 

Calvin Roche performs a variety of sounds from upbeat to chilled acoustic featuring amazing bass and vocals.

 

Clinton Tavares is a singer/songwriter from Watford that is currently playing open mics all across London.

 

 

 

Daniel Corsini plays acoustic folk with influences from Ray Davies to Kenny Rogers, to cups of tea, to sleeping in the sun.

 

 

 

Glen Kirkham is a star in waiting. His unique high-note harmonies and distinctive acoustic guitar playing produce a stunning synergy of blues and rock/pop.

 

 

 

Icicle Tree are an established folk fusion band from Surrey that plays memorable songs with distinctive melodies, creative arrangements and a truly identifiable style.

 

 

 

Jakob Deist, originally from South Africa but now based in Essex, is an amazing acoustic performer who blends a mix of pop, blues, rock and indie sounds. His new album, The Owl and the Crow, is out soon.

 

 

 

Kaitlyn Haggis, our youngest open-mic performer to date, is a teenage singer/songwriter from North London. She’s been developing her own material over the last 12 months and is currently recording her first EP.

 

 

 

Lucie Zara is a singer/songwriter from Devon. Her music has been described as a fusion of folk guitar, quirky lyrics and soulful vocals.

 

Marie Naffah is bound for big things, according to Love Music Love Life Magazine, who say: “With features on Balcony TV, Absolute Radio, XFM and her track about a girl who has lost her sight featured as top video of the week on NME breakthrough, this is just the beginning for the 20-year-old. You can expect to hear a lot more as she is set to record her new EP over the next few months.”

 

Paul Howley
Original soulful folk, big poppy choruses and some of the smartest lyrics in town.

 

The Frisbys
Often compared to the likes of Fleetwood Mac, the Frisbys write memorable folk/pop songs. Expect delicate folk textures and soaring harmonies from this four-piece.

 

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Summer is drawing to an end and it is with a tinge of sadness that our two amazing special exhibitions, Animal Inside Out and Scott’s Last Expedition, make their last appearance at Lates this Friday. They’ve both had an amazing run and taught us all so much about exploration, endurance and anatomy.

 

If you haven’t yet seen what the insides of a giraffe look like or read Captain Scott’s inspiring and tragic diaries, I’d definitely recommend you make the trip this Friday for the last late opening of the season.

 

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And to celebrate what’s been a spectacular summer of Lates, we’ll of course be bringing back our open-mic night in the glorious Central Hall. We’ve had even more submissions than for previous months and have chair-danced our way through almost 300 youtube videos to pick an outstanding line-up for August.

 

A Girl Called Ruth

 

We’ve got live performances by Sebastian Blake, Hannah Scott, Laura Koonjean, Claudia Heidegger, Resonance, Lili Burr, Mitch Daniels and A Girl Called Ruth. To give you a taste of what to expect, there are some of their videos below to get you in the mood!

 

Laura Koonjean, said, “It’s such a gorgeous, historic venue to play. I am excited to be part of the prestigious Lates with MasterCard. Can’t wait to share some Friday fun and songs with everyone.”

 

We’re also happy to say that our friendly, yet eccentric, Crazy Artistes are back for another spin at speed-sketching in the galleries. Find them in the corridors, quickly draw the specimen they’ve brought out of the collections and you could win a prize from their stash of Museum goodies.

 

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After this month Lates will be taking a break until 26 October when we’ll return with the first late night opening of the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

 

Andy Glynn

Visitor Events Manager


 

Find out more about Lates with MasterCard

 

 

Sebastian Blake

 

 

Hannah Scott

 

 

Claudia Heidegger

 

 

Mitch Daniels
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We’re still waiting for some proper summer weather to arrive here on Cromwell Road but while we do, we’re gearing up for an amazing few weeks. To kick start the summer of fun we’ve got a Lates with MasterCard to remember on Friday 27 July.

 

Last month we trialled our first open-mic night in Central Hall and we had ten amazing performers. This month open-mic is back and, this time, we’ve got 11 magnificent musicians to keep you entertained (some of their videos are at the bottom of the post for you to take a look at).

 

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Click any image to see it full size

 

We’re also going to be opening our front lawn for the first time at Lates. You’ll be able to relax on the grass beneath the beautiful architecture and enjoy our free Wild Planet exhibition, charting 50 years of spectacular wildlife photography, and get a glimpse of Shauna Richardson's giant hand-crocheted lions from the Lionheart Project.

 

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If you attended Lates last month, you might have seen two eccentric ‘artists’ carrying taxidermy specimens and dinosaur skulls around the Museum. If you were wondering what they were up to, the answer is speed-sketching! The ‘artists’ will be back again this month to challenge you to a quick sketch. Have you got what it takes to draw a badger, a fox or a mighty allosaurus skull in ten minutes? If so, you could walk away with some great Museum prizes.

 

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Of course you’ll also want to visit our special exhibitions Animal Inside Out and Scott’s Last Expedition. Animal Inside Out showcases over 90 plastinated specimens so you can get up-close looks at the insides of everything from cats’ brains to an elephant’s trunk. Scott’s Last Expedition tells the inspiring and emotional story of the Terra Nova Expedition across Antarctica. Read Captain Scott’s diaries, experience his Antarctic hut and see the amazing artefacts collected on his journey.

 

You may want to book your tickets in advance to make sure you get a slot. You can do that here.

 

So, whether you’re into sports, art, music or science, this month’s Lates has got something for you.

 

Andy Glynn
Visitor Events Manager

 

 

 

The Amazing Graces

 

 

 

Katie Ferrara

 

 

 

Dubellows

 

 

And, at last month's Lates, you can see that The Folk had a great time!

 

 

The Folk

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This month's Lates blog posts are from guest Andy Glynn, our Visitor Events Manager:

 

In the Lates team, we’re busy prepping for our first open-mic session at Lates with MasterCard but I had a few minutes to chat with 3 of our ten performers and ask them a few questions about this Friday’s event.

 

Sid Batham, Felix Fables and Meg Cavanaugh told us a bit about their experiences with open-mic nights and why they want to perform at the Museum. We’ve also included performances of them and the other artists to give you a taste of what to expect from Friday’s event.

 

Why do you want to perform at the Natural History Museum?

 

Felix Fables: For our band, busking has been a very big thing. That immediate interaction with the audience is something we love and we think Central Hall is going to be great for that same type of interaction. We think we’ll get a really good vibe going on.

 

Meg: It’s such an impressive venue and a great building. I had heard about the after hours events and how popular they are, and said wow, how amazing would it be to be able to perform there.

 

Sid: It’s a really nice, beautiful building and the event seems like it’s going to have a bit of a different atmosphere than other open-mic venues.

 

 

 

Felix Fables

 

How important are open-mic nights to musicians in London?


Sid: Very! Opportunities like this, to get a guaranteed audience, are really great. They’re a good chance for getting your name out there.

 

Meg: They’re really important for the music community too. It’s a great time to meet your fellow musicians and somewhere you can practise your material.

 

How would you describe your style of music?


Felix Fables: Up-beat folk with double bass and four-part harmonies. We use all acoustic instruments and are kind of loud! We’d say we were an audience interactive band!

 

Meg: I’d describe my music as sultry folk with a bit of a funky country rock tone.

 

Sid: Soul, but a new soul and very stripped back. Simple, just simple songs that are both soul and pop.

 

 

 

Sid Batham

 

 

What inspires you when you’re making music?

 

Meg: Listening to other music really inspires me, as well as life experiences. I’m interested in deep themes and don’t just look at issues of love and loss.

 

Sid: I get a lot of inspiration from stuff that goes on around me. Things I go through or that my friends go through. I’m also really inspired by film – I’m a big Tim Burton fan.

 

Felix Fables: A tricky question. I think it’s easy to get bogged down with stuff and not enjoy what you’re doing and really, the point of music is enjoyment. That’s what’s inspiring to us.

 

Hear Meg and the rest of our artists performing below and find out about what’s happening at the rest of Lates this month in my previous blog entry.

 

Find out more about our Open-mic at Lates

 

Also playing this Friday 29 June:

 

 

The Folk


Ciah


Sherika Sherard


Jake Manning


Dayle Clarke


Meg Cavanaugh


Treana Morris


And visit Kitty Ward's website to hear her play


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This month's Lates blog is from guest Andy Glynn, our Visitor Events Manager:

 

'Summer is almost upon us – hopefully! To celebrate the season, we’ve got some really special activity lined up for this month’s Lates with MasterCard on 29 June.

 

Perhaps the most exciting new element of Lates is our entertainment. We’ve got hilarious free stand-up with award-winning comedian Tom Allen in our new Darwin Centre Café. He’ll be starting at 19.00 and splitting sides until 19.40.

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June Lates specials: Comedian Tom Allen in our Darwin Centre Cafe; Open-mic sessions in the Central Hall will come from Sid Batham, Meg Cavanaugh, Felix Fables members Mike and James, and another 7 artists (left to right). Select images to enlarge

And there’s more. This month we’re hosting our first Open-mic acoustic sessions in the Central Hall. We asked singer-songwriters from all over the UK to send us links to their YouTube videos and Facebook profiles and the competition was tough. Over 100 musicians submitted their tracks and we watched and listened to them all. With everything from experimental soundscaping to heavy rock, there was a broad selection.

 

After much deliberation (and more time on YouTube than is healthy) we narrowed it down to our favourite ten for this month. They are: Sid Batham, Meg Cavanaugh, Felix Fables, Ciah, The Folk, Kitty Ward, Sherika Sherard, Jake Manning, Dayle Clarke and Treana Morris. Here's a taste of what to expect from Meg and we'll be posting a few more samples from other artists next week:

 

 

But Open-mic isn’t our only new addition to Lates this month. In the Central Hall we’ve revamped our menu to offer some of the best of British food and drink. While listening to our awesome music line-up you’ll be able to tuck into a platter of fine British cheese and sample some independent label British sparkling wine, Kentish cider and Camden lager from the bar.

 

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We’re still hoping that the sunshine’s just around the corner so we’ll also be opening our beautiful Darwin Centre Courtyard for the occasion, giving you the opportunity to relax in style and enjoy Pimms on the lawn.

 

And if all that wasn’t enough, you’ll definitely want to pop in and see our incredible special exhibitions, both open for the evening.

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Animal Inside Out (pictured above) is proving to be one of our most popular exhibitions ever and it’s easy to see why. With 90 plastinated animals, it’s an anatomical safari that’s definitely not to be missed. You can buy tickets on the night but you might want to book in advance to secure your spot.

 

And if inside out animals aren’t your cup of tea, you could visit our Scott’s Last Expedition exhibition, (above right) which charts the incredible journey of Captain Scott’s Terra Nova expedition. Tickets for both exhibitions are available here.

 

So, a hundred YouTube videos later, I’m hoping you’ll find this month’s Lates to be a totally unique experience. After all, where else in London can you see an inside out elephant, Captain Scott’s diaries, free stand-up comedy and incredible live music, all in one night?

 

Singer Meg summed it up nicely for us, saying ‘There’s no better place to rock with the dinosaurs!’

 

Find out more about our Friday Lates

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I managed to get off the treadmill of work for five minutes yesterday to take a look at the fabulous new camel on display in the Central Hall (below) as a preview for the soon to open Animal Inside Out exhibition. It stood imposingly, surrounded by admirers taking photographs of themselves beside it ‘and practically kissing it as they did’, according to Julian, our Sales and Systems Manager.

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This was in between his trying to make arrangements to fix a guttering light in the Central Hall, removing some children playing at being pterodactyls on the balcony and discussing with me and Gary, newly promoted to Head of Visitor Services, whether the best place for the camel at tonight's late opening would be in the middle of the Blue Bar (no!). To see where it will be standing, you'll have to come to the Museum tonight.

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Above: Last month's late opening of our Scott's Last Expedition exhibition (left) and the enigmatic Captain Scott who was thought to have died on 29 March 1912, as photographed by Herbert Ponting.

Earlier this week I was at a conference at the Royal Society, which is situated very close to Waterloo Place where there is a monumental bronze statue of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. I gave it a nod as I passed, for not only do we have Scott's Last Expedition exhibition on here at the Museum, but one hundred years ago on 29 March 1912 the intrepid – not to say superhuman – Captain Scott and his companions finally gave up their unequal struggle with the mighty powers of Nature and passed into history. I have just found out that, movingly, the statue was sculpted by Kathleen Scott, his widow, which explains the special resonance that the statue possesses.

 

kiran-photo.jpgWe are marking the anniversary at Lates with Mastercard with a special free poetry and song performance by poet Kiran Millward Hayward (left) and folk-guitarist Jake Wilson in the Darwin Centre café (close to the entrance of Scott’s Last Expedition) between 18.30 and 19.45. Kiran will be performing readings from Last March, a collection of poems about the expedition commissioned by the Scott Polar Research Institute. These readings will be woven around by songs from Jake’s All’s Well, which are inspired by Scott and his men.

 

Scott’s bronze overlooks a rack of blue Boris bikes. As the weather has been so fine I was pretty tempted to hire one of these after the conference and cycle back to the Museum, as long as Lycra wasn’t involved. And, if I was not already going to be here chained to my desk like a camel to a water wheel on Friday, I would indeed be very tempted to bike over to us in the evening for a glass or two at our bars.

 

I hope that you will be equally tempted to join us for what was After Hours with Mastercard and is now called Lates with Mastercard (After Hours is now the title for all our adult evening events, not just the final Friday of the month) and raise a glass or two to the heroic endeavours of Captain Scott and his team.

 

To book tickets for the Scott's Last Expedition exhibition for tonight, please call 020 7942 5725.

 

Animal Inside Out opens to the public on Friday 6 April, and has its first evening opening at the Lates in April.

 

Read the recent blog about Scott's last days remembered in our exhibition. And read the news story about this week's visit from the British Services Antarctic Expedition team.

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Tonight is the final late-night opening for our 2011 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. It is now sold out, so if you haven’t already bought a ticket then your next opportunity for a late night visit won't be until October when the 2012 exhibition opens at the Museum and the last Friday of that month! It's popular because it's such a great exhibition.

 

However, we have another excellent exhibition open late tonight - Scott’s Last Expedition. And a few tickets are still available by phone or at walk-up, so why not make it a part of your Friday night out?

 

If you have never been to After Hours with Mastercard, the first thing you will see when you cross the threshold into the magnificent terracotta Central Hall is the red-lit Diplodocus standing guard over our pop-up restaurant, the Blue Bar, and you will hear jazz spilling out from one of the alcoves. There is a hostess on hand to seat you if you want to have a meal.

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Above: At After Hours, the Central Hall's BIue Bar restaurant offers a choice of three bowl platter menus from smoked haddock pie to chicken paella and vegetable tagine... somewhat different to the menu at Captain Scott's table in the Terra Nova hut recreated in a stylised form in our Scott exhibition, below.
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If you just want to catch an exhibition and a drink at our After Hours evenings, then you have a number of options: turn right, down Fossil Way to our Red Bar, or go straight ahead, to the Gold Bar. And, if you are coming to the Mastercard bar, turn left down Dinosaur Way.

 

Humans being what they are, their eating and drinking offers a fascinating way of relating to the past. For example, this week the luncheon menu from the Titanic, the one served on the day it hit the iceberg - also 100 years ago this year - has been in the news. Reading it, one is instantly transported back to that era so readily that one can hear the tinkling of the piano in the dining room or think about the steerage passengers’ conditions once you see that corned beef, vegetables and dumplings were on the menu, in addition to all the fancy fare.

 

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Above: Scott's last expedition supplies included Fraser River salmon, Dutch Edam cheese and Huntley & Palmers biscuits. The original products are on display in our exhibition.

Being able to actually see one of the real menus for yourself would add in a powerful extra dimension to the impact. So it proves, when you visit Scott’s Last Expedition and see the handwritten menu cut into the shape of an Emperor penguin, with the signatures of Scott's men who ate the meal on the back. That and the original orange tins, worn with age, of Huntley and Palmers Digestive Biscuits (Plain), or the green tin of Lyle and Sons’ Golden Syrup; the box of caster sugar; the jam and cocoa; the Fraser River salmon - just some of the original artefacts (shown above) from the mammoth load of supplies the expedition took to Antarctica.

 

Suppliers were generous to the expedition: Abram Lyle and Sons gave 450kg of golden syrup, Henry Tate & Sons 2,300 kgs of sugar, Huntley and Palmers donated large amounts of digestive biscuits and Beaches gave a range of jams, including 130 kgs of blackcurrant. Frys and Sons donated a range of chocolate and cocoa.

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Scott's cubicle is recreated in our Scott exhibition and shows where he wrote his famous diaries.

Scott’s prodigious diaries show how and when these supplies were used. For example, the biscuits were used as sledging rations and, when mixed with pony meat, they became the famous ‘hoosh’ of which the expedition grew so fond (particularly when eating it was a matter of life or death during their travels in Antarctica).

 

The impact of this close-up experience is heightened in our exhibition when you turn a corner, and see footage of the unloading of those supplies from Scott’s ship, the Terra Nova, as part of Herbert Ponting’s evocative film of the expedition, The Great White Silence. We've just announced a Scott competition which gives you the chance to win a pair of tickets to our Scott exhibition and to see Ponting's film screened at the BFI cinema on 21 March.

 

I remember a teacher once saying to me ‘nothing remains of a civilisation except its art’. Sometimes all that remains of an historical event is its artefacts, so why not take the opportunity of engaging with Scott’s Last Expedition at After Hours this Friday through the medium of its artefacts?

 

You can also take part in what promises to be a fascinating debate on the contemporary issues facing the great white continent, The Scramble for Antarctica?, which is part of our series of Scott evening events

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It may be a mild January so far, but inside the Museum there's a distinctly Antarctic atmosphere. After the mammoth operation that was the royal opening of our Scott’s Last Expedition exhibition last week (see the recent What’s New blog for the news) I had been ‘pacing myself’ on the return back to normality (i.e. slacking) this week. But I was instantly revitalised on discovering that this Friday’s After Hours with MasterCard is listed in both Time Out's Critics Choice and the Daily Telegraph as one of the top things to do this weekend in London.

 

The reason this After Hours has been picked out in this delightful fashion is because we have two top exhibitions opening late, and it won’t cost the earth to come and see them, always attractive at this time of the year.

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A ticket to Scott’s Last Expedition is £9 (£8 excluding voluntary donation) and it will give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see artefacts and specimens from the expedition on display together in Britain for the first time (above). It is also a great opportunity to take on board the facts around the 1910-1913 Terra Nova expedition and to glean something of the heroic natures of the men who went out on that terrible journey, a journey embedded in the national psyche.

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Scott films: Glimpse the shell-shocked-looking Apsley Cherry-Garrard (left) and the ordeal of the 'worst journey in the world' to Cape Crozier in 1911 to collect Emperor penguin eggs (right) in our online video or in the exhibition cinema.

 

Specimens on display include one of the three Emperor penguin eggs collected by Dr Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers and Apsley Cherry-Garrard (above left) during the permanent darkness of the Antarctic winter, which were donated to the Museum by Cherry-Garrard on his return to Britain. The eggs were collected under horrendous conditions at Cape Crozier and you can find out about the renowned worst journey in the world in our film.

 

Famously, Scott, Wilson, Edgar Evans, 'Titus' Oates and Bowers, died in 1912 on the journey back from the expedition's attempt on the South Pole. Remarkably during their failed return from the Pole they had with them 35 kilos of geological and fossil specimens that they had collected and hauled by sledge. Not even when their attempt to get back to base at Cape Evans was obviously doomed did they jettison them to lighten their load. For that reason alone, nevermind their high scientific value, these specimens have a powerful legacy and you can see some of them in the exhibition (above).

 

Many of the contemporary family relatives of the original Polar Party attended the royal opening of the exhibition and it was a great honour to have them present. Prior to the event I had the privilege of talking with Petty Officer Edgar Evans’ grandson John Evans, who sadly was unable to be present on the night. And at the exhibition opening I had my hand held by Lady Kennet, the daughter by her second husband of Kathleen, Robert Falcon Scott’s wife. She and her own daughter were intently studying a large photograph of the expedition party at the time. Although it is 100 years since the Southern Party members died on their way back from the Pole, that felt like history very close up.

 

One member of the family relatives who definitely couldn't attend the opening was Scott's only grandson, Falcon, but for good reason. Falcon is currently in Antarctica to help preserve the Cape Evans hut of the Terra Nova expedition. You can see a film of him entering his grandfather's hut for the very first time here and read about his reactions in our Antarctic conservation blog.

 

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Back on the menu this Friday is the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 exhibition - now very much sold out. And for those of you who have been missing it, our much loved Central Hall pop-up restaurant in the Blue Bar, returns (above). Here you can indulge any cravings for seasonal comfort food under the shadow of the glowing Diplodocus. If you just want to get a drink, then we have two main bar areas - the Gold Bar, just past the Blue Bar, and the Red Bar in Fossil Way.

 

As usual, there’ll be live jazz and this Friday's special Scott-related event promising a lively discussion on the question Do we naturally need heroes?. Come and join two key speakers, Meredith Hooper and Andrew Morton, to talk about the nature of celebrity and how things have changed since Scott’s death raised him to heroic status.

 

It's also a good time to visit both our exhibition shops and the main Museum shop.

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'Winter draws on' as my gran used to say, and unbelievably it's our last After Hours with MasterCard of 2011 already.

 

Outside, Ice Rink pealights are wrapped in sparkling coils around the plane trees in the Museum garden and the bright lights of the carousel remind us that the festive season is upon us. And I am now squeaking like Minnie Mouse due to festive laryngitis. My After Hours catering manager, Ed Watts, is promising me a restorative glass of something sparkling laced with Lemsip at our Central Hall bar at tonight's free event.

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At tonight's After Hours do a spot of chilled-out Christmas shopping in our beautiful Museum Shop

Other unusual combinations are on offer at After Hours this week. This is one occasion you can actually chill out and do a spot of Christmas shopping in our Museum shop at the same time – and that is not something one can say of many places in London at  this time.

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I have myself been peering short-sightedly into the jewellery cabinets in our shops looking for present ideas (mostly for me) and there are some beautiful designs and objects based on the natural world at various prices, like our bestselling ‘real leaf’ jewellery range (right). If jewellery isn't your bag we have a very good choice of natural history books, Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year prints, stocking fillers and soft toys, including a Christmassy cuddly reindeer (left) I was very tempted by.

 

You can also experience the unusual combination of dinosaurs and forensic detection - though, sadly, not at the same time - by visiting our iconic Dinosaurs gallery and taking part in Crime Scene Live: The Box of Bones event. Not only are our Crime Scene Live events special, they are also award-winning. Earlier this week the Crime Scene event we held at June’s After Hours won best event in a public space at the Eventia Awards 2011 in London. These awards recognise excellence in the events industry, and ours beat the Royal Wedding live event coverage and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Ryder Cup! We were as pleased as punch.

 

And look out for Drawabout, a theatrical ‘off-piste’ drawing class who will be roaming around, accompanied by a roving minstrel. They'll improvise songs about you if you agree to be drawn! It sounds like great fun and you can take the picture home with you if you like.

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But the main course at our last-one-before-Christmas After Hours with Mastercard is the late opening of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of theYear 2011 exhibition. The exhibition (featured above) is pretty much sold out now, so we hope you have already bought your ticket (although there may still be some at walk-up). Call 020 7942 5725 to see if there are stil some tickets left for tonight. Even if you don't visit the exhibition you can have a browse in the fabulous exhibition shop and enjoy a drink at our bars or a delicious bowl platter at our Gold Café Bar while listening to live jazz.

 

See what Christmas gift ideas to look out for in the Museum Shops

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AH-ice-rink-in-progress-fairy-lights-700-copyright-natural-history-museum.jpgThe starry pealights in our trees in the Museum garden that indicate to me that our Ice Rink will soon be here also indicate that it is time once more for winter After Hours with Mastercard. And it is this Friday that we kick off our winter season.

 

We will be opening the Dinosaurs gallery late this Friday, so don’t miss the opportunity of taking a trip around our world famous gallery, which will be particularly atmospheric after dark. You'll see our spectacular Baryonyx fossil, the first spinosaur discovered in the world and relative to the fearsome Spinosaurus, star of the BBC's Planet Dinosaur series.

 

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We also have a brand new dining experience! Those of you who are After Hours winter regulars will know that we always have a ‘pop up’ style restaurant in our Central Hall.

 

This time around, we will be having a  ‘horse-shoe’ bar in the Central Hall for those of you who would like just to have a drink and if you want to have a meal, then we have a great bowl platter menu in a new venue for After Hours with Mastercard – the Gold café bar, which is just to the north of the Central Hall. You can find our menus here (PDF).

 

The bowl platter offer certainly has some tasty items on it - I know just how tasty they are, having had an extensive tasting a few weeks ago and I am very much looking forward to getting reacquainted with the sausages and champ and the mussels and chorizo paella in particular come Friday night. We’ll have jazz in the Central Hall and in the Gold Café Bar, and we will also be running the Red Bar as usual in Fossil Way.

 

We’ll stay open until 22.30 tonight so please do come along and experience the Museum after hours. And keep an eye out for the small animatronic dinosaurs in the gallery - they will certainly be keeping an eye out for you!

 

Visit our After Hours with MasterCard web page for more details of what's on tonight and keep an eye on it for updates on next month's late night highlights.

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‘Hot time, summer in the city…’ It certainly is getting hotter than a match-head, which is fantastic news for our last summer late opening this season.

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Cool and hot stuff at After Hours tonight, 30 September. Pimms and Sexual Nature exhibition's Isabella Rossellin'e Green Porno films - it's the last chance to enjoy Sexual Nature before it closes this weekend.

Our Sexual Nature exhibition closes on 2 October, so try and catch it at September's After Hours.

 

I thought I’d pay the exhibition a farewell visit myself today. On the way I bumped into Dave Nevin, our Visitor Experience Manager, and two of our Visit Planners.

 

The Visit Planners, resplendent in black and red Sexual Nature t-shirts, told me that some of our overseas visitors. unfamiliar with the euphemism ‘Ask me about the birds and the bees’ emblazoned on the back of the t-shirts, ask them to tell them about birds and bees in the zoological rather than metaphorical sense. They also said that visitors often ask them exactly what it is the female orang-utan does with the piece of bark. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to get the Visit Planners to tell me what their response was. They did tell me that visitors really enjoy the exhibition and will come out wowed at the new things they’ve just seen. Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno videos (above) are particularly popular.

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Dave told me that some of our visitors have been picking up some useful chat-up lines from the interactive writing wall at the end of the exhibition, and he took me down to have a look at it.  The wall has a fascinating array of visitor messages: touching, humorous and graphic, and ranging from the American mother who wrote how happy she was she’d given birth, to the prosaic but very funny ‘Your ass is like a basketball ...’ comment.  I probably won’t be using that line myself.

 

Perhaps that came from someone who should aim to sign off summer in style with our Ultimate Attraction Masterclass, where you can learn to recognise signals and scents in the romancing game. We have a social anthropologist/flirting expert and a perfume expert on hand to guide you through flirting signals and how to use perfume to lure in a mate.

 

I also popped over to the Darwin Centre Atrium and Courtyard Terrace (right), which will of course be open for Friday’s After Hours. The Courtyard was bathed in brilliant sunshine, birds were singing in the trees, the sky was azure, and the Wildlife Garden formed a pretty glade behind.  It has a very relaxed vibe to it and if I didn’t have to do some work I’d be out there still, building up my tan. Come tonight though, it will be a great place to enjoy some late summer food, a Pimms or a cold beer from our Darwin Centre bar.

 

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Right beside the Darwin Centre bar you will find a beautiful installation that came here as part of the London Design Festival – the Unnatural Selection by Raw Edges and Oscar Narud (left, image by Susan Smart) .This intriguing and engaging animation on used computer monitors mixes up species and specimens in an 'unnatural' way. It is inspired by the Natural History Museum's collections and is presented in Museum-style cabinets (sponsored by Bloomberg). When it gets dark, the illumination becomes especially vivid.

 

Tonight is also the start of something very special for After Hours, for we are very pleased to announce the beginning of a three year partnership with MasterCard who will be sponsoring the Museum’s evening events: After Hours with MasterCard and MasterCard Night Safari.

 

MasterCard will be working with the museum to create a range of exciting offers and events for all MasterCard cardholders as part of their Priceless London programme - check the website for more information.

 

Also look out for the @NHM_London Twitter feed and the Museum’s Facebook page and keep an eye out for our After Hours with MasterCard web page for updates on October's late night highlights.

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Its seems only yesterday that I was thinking ‘summer is icumen in, loud sing cuccu’. That was back in April and I’m not sure that summer ever did turn up. Anyway, we still have our two hot summer exhibitions on at this Friday’s After Hours, so why not join us for some pre-bank-holiday-weekend downtime?
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Sex, shopping and dinosaurs at After Hours on Friday 26 August. Select images to enlarge them.

One of those exhibitions, Sexual Nature is with us until 2 October, but Age of the Dinosaur bows out on 4 September, so this is your last chance to catch it on Friday evening.

I recently read an article that said women think about shopping as much as men think about sex. Men allegedly think about sex every 52 seconds, whilst 74% of the women in the survey thought about shopping once a minute. Well, our enticing Sexual Nature exhibition offers an excellent opportunity for you to do both things at the same time.

clap.jpgThe Sexual Nature shop is at the exit of the exhibition and stocks an interesting array of items, including some very unusual soft  tocuddly-chlamydia.jpgys. When I was there recently, one young couple were ferreting amongst the cuddly sex diseases, as I had been.

‘It’s the clap, ha ha,' said the male half of the couple, holding up a soft blue toy. ‘I like that one, I think I might get it,’ said his girlfriend innocently. Cue immoderate laughter all round. (Cuddly clap and chlamydia toys shown left and right for clarification.)  I suspect the retail assistants have heard plenty like that during their stint in the shop.

You can also buy a Kama Sutra getaway travel kit or pop up book, a mini Kama Sutra weekender kit, Belgian chocolates, books on the erotic art of Japan and body language, lots of feathers and copies of famous sexually based literature.

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Talking of chocolates, if you fancy something a little more exotic than a Belgian truffle, come and see if a chocolate-dipped ant wafer takes your fancy at Edible Insects: Food for the Future, our special event on Friday.

 

There is certainly much innocent and enjoyable fun to be had at our Sexual Nature exhibition and some terrific animatronic dinosaurs in Age of the Dinosaur, so we hope you will come by this bank holiday Friday. Kick off your shoes on the grass on the Darwin Centre Courtyard Terrace and unwind with us over a late summer glass of Pimms and one of our tasty pre-orderable picnics or even a tasty edible insect!

Our romantic roving troubadour, Sebastian D’arcy Heathcliff is back once more, serenading you with his renditions of classic love songs to spice up your evening. 

And although our summer exhibitions will soon be leaving us, it is only so that we can bring in some really fabulous new exhibitions. Watch this space for more information of the late night openings of the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition opening in October.

Browse the Sexual Nature exhibition gift range online

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‘It’ll probably be summer at Christmas,’ the cashier in my bank told me earlier this week as we bonded over the unseasonable weather beleaguering us and the rainstorm breaking over South Kensington. Let's hope it changes for our next After Hours evening on Friday 29 July.

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It was pretty unseasonable at June’s After Hours, although it must be said that suited me pretty well as it avoided After Hours visitors dining out on the Darwin Centre Courtyard terrace amongst swathes of  Heras fencing. The fencing was there to protect the building site where  the new Tsunami Memorial was due to be erected that weekend.

 

If it is fine, do take a look at the Memorial, which opened to the public on 6 July following a special commemorative service. It has a powerful presence on the far side of the Courtyard Terrace, and if you go near, you will be able to read the names of those it commemorates.

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The Memorial (left) offers a stark reminder of the powerful forces of nature by which all our lives are governed, even if we normally live in an urban environment such as London, generally protected from the elements. The Museum itself lost some local staff in Thailand, who were working at a scientific research station when the tsunami hit.

 

On to happier subjects. Like the lady who rode a white horse to Banbury Cross, After Hours visitors will have music wherever they go on Friday, for we have jazz in the Darwin Centre atrium (pictured right), Latin-American music courtesy of Columbian master Ricardo Curbelo (pictured below left) in the Central Hall and classic love songs care of our roving rock troubadour, Sebastian Darcy-Heathcliff, who will be loitering with intent outside the Sexual Nature exhibition again, ready to serenade our visitors.

 

ricardo_image-590.jpgI am humming to very little musical effect Bryan Adam’s (Everything I Do) I Do It for You as I type this, which I realise might be a hangover from June After Hours, where I caught Mr Darcy-Heathcliff giving a very impressive rendition of this to a group of young Japanese ladies, who ran away giggling down Dinosaur Way when Mr Darcy-H came close, smouldering like Lord Byron on Bonfire Night. Why not treat yourself to a personal serenade before you visit the Sexual Nature exhibition?

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Incidentally, actress and film director Isabella Rossellini (right) was in the Sexual Nature exhibition last week. But dressed as herself not as an animal making love as she appears in her Green Porno films, which are one of the highlights in the exhibition.

 

If dinosaurs are more your thing, then our Age of the Dinosaur exhibition is open late once more. You are also free to wander up to our fascinating Minerals gallery and view the dazzling Vault where some of the world’s most iconic gems are on display; stroll around the Cocoon prior to relaxing over a glass of wine or champagne, a beer or a Pimms at the bar down in the Darwin Centre atrium (or outside on the Courtyard Terrace, if fingers crossed, it is sunny).

 

Don’t forget to pre-order your Mini picnic if you’d like to eat as well. We also have the Big Nature Quiz in the Restaurant where there are some great prizes on offer for the winning team.

 

‘Late night is the great night’ as one of our After Hours visitors so kindly and poetically put it recently, and we would be very happy if you could join us!

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Laura Harmour

Laura Harmour

Member since: Nov 18, 2009

Find out what will be happening at Lates - the late night opening of the Museum on the last Friday of (almost) every month.

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