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9 Posts tagged with the cocoon tag
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On the evening of Friday 26 October, our first-ever, pop-up festival is setting up camp here for the week. Visitors arriving over the coming October half-term holiday period, 27 October to 2 November, will certainly be surprised when they come across some unusual displays and theatrical shows around the Museum...

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Campsite characters will arrive at the Museum on Friday evening in Joni the campervan.

Sarah Punshon, our Darwin Centre Arts Events Programme curator, who's been planning this special event for over 3 months, tells us about the final preparations underway for The Campsite:

 

'I'm very excited about the unique performances and activities we've got in store for families this half-term – I can't wait to see visitors' faces when they come across The Campsite at the Museum!

 

'Vintage campervans, caravans and tents, each home to a playful performance or interactive installation inspired by Museum science, will be pitching up in and around the Darwin Centre this Friday evening, ready for Saturday's official opening. The Campsite is a unique mobile venue of theatre, art, music and film, created by young theatre company Field Trip, in collaboration with the Museum.

 

'The shows and activities are going to be a lot of fun and a welcome alternative for families if the usual popular places like the Dinosaurs gallery and the Central Hall get really busy.

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Spot the roaming Lost Camper and point her or him in the right direction...

'We will have a few pop-up tents and attractions in unexpected places of the Museum - look out for our roaming Lost Campers, two "research scientists" who might need help finding their base camp - but most of the the action takes place in the Orange Zone around the Darwin Centre atrium area and outside on the Courtyard.

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Become human specimen displays at The Campsite! Left, exhibition technician Ryan poses in one of the large specimen cases specially created; right, Museum joinery workshop manager Paul demonstrates the use of the giant pin, which incidentally should go through the thorax, Paul. Select images to enlarge them.

'As I write, the Museum joinery workshop team are putting the finishing touches to three human-sized display cases. These have been created specially for the Specimen Preparation Area activity in the Darwin Centre atrium, where visitors can be prepared for display by our energetic 'preparators' and dressed up as specimens to pose in the cases. So if you want to find out what it's like to be a Mammal or a Bird exhibit, now's your chance! But if you'd rather be an Insect, then there's always the option of being pinned into a giant drawer.

 

'Also in the atrium, there's an Audio Adventure to go on in a real polar tent. Two at a time, visitors can enter the tent, put on the headphones and follow the instructions they hear. You might find yourselves pretending to be a scientist visiting the Antarctic or diving under thick ice to collect samples, recording data, and meeting a penguin!

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Children demonstrate two of the retro activities at The Campsite, Left: The Catalogue, where you can archive your own stories on vintage equipment; right, trying out the Audio Adventure.

'Outside on the Darwin Centre Courtyard, I'd recommend taking a seat in Lionel, the cinema in a campervan. Here you can choose from a menu of short science-inspired films. Or nearby, there's The Catalogue activity where our Archivist will be collecting stories about nature. Record your own story on cassette, type it up on a vintage typewriter, or draw a picture of it. The Archivist will carefully file it away – and perhaps later, someone else may need to use it, for research purposes...

 

'In the middle of the Courtyard there will be camping games to enjoy. And in a tent underneath the trees you can watch performances of an award-winning musical comedy about Charles Darwin, and listen to specially-commissioned songs about the weird and wonderful world of insects.

 

'For the last few weeks, a lot of my time has been spent match-making: putting artists and scientists together for interesting conversations, in the hope that something special will result. I feel confident we've succeeded.'

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Inside every tent, caravan and campervan there'll be something special to discover. This tiny caravan above, currently being made by designer James Lewis, will hold a giant story about a blue whale.

The Campsite is the second in this year's programme of Darwin Centre art-and-play events. Whilst planning this one, Sarah and her team are already starting conversations with exciting artists about the third event – watch this space for more information.

 

The Campsite event is free to attend and runs from 27 October to 2 November.

 

Find out more about The Campsite online

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The clocks have gone back and it's getting dark impossibly early. Yup, the short and coated days of winter are upon us. But here at the Museum, the onset of dreary winter is kept firmly at bay by our magical outdoor Ice Rink which opened today, 4 November, on the front lawn for the season.

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Opening event: Children from Docklands' Cyril Jackson primary school with The Snowman from the Sadler's Wells show adaptation recreate the famous character's gliding pose on the ice (it's the actual stage costume).

At dusk it becomes even more dazzling out there when the 76,000 Christmas lights twinkle out from the lofty plane trees framing the rink, pictured below.

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76,000 lights provide the twinkling canopy for the Ice Rink that opened on 4 November for its winter season on the Museum front lawn.

This year's Ice Rink is even more bedazzling with the addition of an olde worlde Sweet Shop (every parent's nightmare) by the main 950-square-metre skating rink and the sparkling vintage carousel returns again for rides. There is also the adjoining children's rink for little skaters and even more penguin skate aids and skating marshals than last year to help learners small and large.

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Kids rush! The Sweet Shop, new to this year's Ice Rink, overflows with sticky delights and below, the vintage carousel returns with its sparkly horse rides and there are more penguin skate aids for learners.

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The Ice Rink isn't just about skating, however. It's a wonderful place to socialise and soak up the ambience of this historical seasonal setting, or just watch the action from the viewing platform of the Café Bar. The bar serves a festive choice of hot and cold drinks including gluhwein and delicious hot chocolate, with the promise an extensive food menu and music nights.

 

At the launch party on Thursday 3 November, guests and excited children from the Docklands' Cyril Jackson primary school (above) were greeted by The Snowman character from the current Sadler's Wells stage adaptation of Raymond Briggs' classic.

 

Later on at the evening event, various celebrities showed off their skating skills including Olympic swimmer Sharon Davies and top alpine ski racer Chemmy Alcott - both initiating incredibly brave young family members to the rink.

 

The Ice Rink and Café Bar stays open until 22.00 weekdays and weekends and you can book tickets online, prices start from £8.


Read more about the Ice Rink in the latest news story

 

Find out all about the Ice Rink on the website

Enjoy some of the photos from the launch party below. Select images to enlarge.
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A lucky schoolgirl gliding on ice with The Snowman

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Chemmy Alcott, current British no. 1 alpine ski racer, with family and The Snowman

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Sharron Davies, Olympic swimmer, with one of her kids - who was seen dashing over the ice later on

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Tupele Dorgu, Coronation Street's Kelly Crabtree

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The Only Way is Essex star Lydia Rose Bright with little sister, and below hugging The Snowman

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Laura Hamilton, who finished 2nd place in Dancing on Ice 2011

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TV presenter Lizzie Cundy and Hayley Tamaddon, actress and winner of Dancing on Ice 2010

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Antony Costa of boy band Blue

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Ben Adams of A1 with friend

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Stars get together for final photos

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The sun shone on the first day the Ice Rink opened to the public on 4 November

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It seems like only a week ago that the front lawn outside the Museum was a mudbath. But now as I write, thanks to sunny dry spells, we have the roof on the butterfly house frame. And work is firmly underway for its metamorphosis into a fully-foliaged and delightfully decorated home for the first live butterflies arriving at the end of the month.

 

Our Sensational Butterflies exhibition opens to the public on 12 April and tickets are on sale now.

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Julia butterfly, Dryas iulia, one of the unusual species coming to Sensational Butterflies. These bright orange beauties have been spotted drinking tears from caiman eyes in Brazil. They are among a few butterflies in the world to do this.

I asked Rob, who's supervising the building work, how it's going: 'The main challenge is the weather – we basically have to turn a muddy field into an exhibition that will take 1000s of people walking over its floor surface, without it turning back into a muddy field again! It’s always a challenge, and every year we tinker with our ideas. The whole exhibition takes 4 to 5 weeks to build. Being a  tropical environment inside the house means that its humid, and the flowers and plants in there need loads of watering every day, which is really the worst thing you can do to a floor which was recently wet mud.'

 

Rob also told me that the butterfly house is actually an agricultural building, the same farmers use to grow crops of tomatoes or flowers. But the material it’s made from is a type of plastic that’s very flame-resistant, this is why it looks different from a normal agricultural building, which would just be covered in polythene.

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The race is on: Turning a muddy field into a beautiful butterfly house and garden must be done in 4 to 5 weeks

It's the fourth year running for the Museum's ever-popular outdoor summer exhibition and this time it's all about the sensory world of butterflies. We'll get to find out what it's like actually being a butterfly and experience things from their perspective as we explore five different sensory zones in the butterfly house.

 

There will be lots of fun things to do indoors - we have no outside play park this year - like touching a real cocoon, crawling through a chrysalis, and even sniffing your way around tropical plants. New additions to the house include the intriguing-sounding butterfly puddle display and the chrysalis crawl-through tunnel.

 

The outdoor garden will have a lot to live up to on last year - it was the envy of the everyone here at the Museum by mid-summer - and will again bustle with window boxes, garden plants and tips for attracting butterflies.

 

So to the beauties of the show. On 30 March, about 600 live sensational butterflies will be released in their new home for the exhibition's opening, along with 1200 pupae. Exciting species to watch out for in the house will be the noisy wing-snapping Cracker butterfly (below right), the Julia butterfly (above) which has been seen drinking tears from caiman eyes in South America, and massive Atlas moths (below left).

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Species to look out for at Sensational Butterflies

Left: Is it a fern? Is it a spider? Nope, it's the Atlas moth, the largest moth species in the world.  Image Neil Gale, Magic of Butterflies House

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Right: What's the noisiest butterfly in the world? Probably the Cracker butterfly, Hamadryas feronia. You might hear some snapping their wings at potential predators on your visit.

 

Select the images to enlarge.

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Our After Hours: Science Uncovered festival is about to start in a few hours. Scientists are gathering their special specimens together in preparation for their shifts in the Central Hall's science stations and adjoining galleries.

 

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We've had some really fabulous coverage this morning and over the last few days. Tonight's event was even on the BBC homepage this morning! Have a look at some of the recent media online to catch a glimpse of the amazing adventures coming your way tonight and see why everyone's raving about it.

 

BBC Today programme online - Night in the museum in pictures


BBC News online - Inside UK forensic insects team

 

BBC Online video - How flies help homicide detectives

 

BBC Today programme - Tom Fielden's blog

 

To recap on the main attractions, we have 3 bars open including The Science Bar and Hendrick's Bar of Curious Concoctions, more than 50 scientists hosting different activities, 100s of star specimens, 26 exclusive Museum tours, 9 science stations, and the Natural History Roadshow. And Cocoon will be open.

 

Especially for families, at the start of the festival this afternoon, we have the Animal Vision show and pond-dipping in the Wildlife Garden. Have a look at the full list of What's on at Science Uncovered.

 

Remember you can download the Science Uncovered map and leaflet to find out where things are.

 

ah-science-zoom.jpgThe spirit of the Science Uncovered night continues online Here you can keep up to date with discussions, blogs, post pics and follow-up on the event, even if you didn't make it.

 

Science Uncovered is part of European Researchers' Night 2010.

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They say the weather’s going to be unpredictable over the weekend, so here are some ideas for indoor and outdoor ventures.

 

  1. zebra-butterfly.jpgButterflies in the house. Wing your way to our Butterfly Explorers exhibition. Just this week some beautiful new species have arrived. The vibrant zebra butterflies are already making their presence felt in the butterfly house and the shy glasswings are still hiding out, but in about 9 weeks these will be much more noticeable. Did you know the zebra butterfly (right) was declared the Florida State Butterfly? And that if you ever decided to eat a glasswing it would have a nasty taste (due to the poisonous sap it sucks on heliotrope leaves). Inside the butterfly house, the vegetation is thriving with bright bromelias and milkweed. Also look out for the peanut plants, a hit with the blue morpho caterpillars. Outside in the British garden, all the border seedlings and nasturtiums are really starting to show. Kids are loving the outdoor treehouse, log pile house and maze in the garden area. So let’s hope the sun shines for some of the weekend.
  2. Butterflies in the cocoon. Continuing on the butterfly theme, and to check that you’ve actually learned something at Butterfly Explorers, head into the magnificent Darwin Centre Cocoon and spend some time at the ‘Organising nature’ butterfly interactive display. Have fun using the touch screen to play at identifying butterfly species. There are lots of fun interactive games and displays in the Darwin Centre. At the Darwin Centre you can also catch a family show or talk in the Attenborough Studio, so check what's on. Browse the Darwin Centre Cocoon highlights on our website.
  3. Wildlife in the garden. This is one of the best times to explore the Museum's Wildlife Garden and after the last 2 weeks of sunshine and recent rain, it's really a pretty sight with the apple blossom and bluebells. The latest excitement in the garden is that a family of foxes and little cubs have been spotted recently, but we can't say where as we wouldn't want them disturbed.fossil-festival-beach.jpg
  4. Life's a beach for a fossil fan. Discover the Jurassic Coast at the free Lyme Regis Fossil Festival (above). Over 20 of our Museum scientists will be there identifying fossils, and leading talks and walks. This popular family event mixes science with music and the arts, on the beach. 'Dead...And Alive!' is the theme of this year's festival, which celebrates the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. Find fossils in fossil digs, go on 'fossilteering' walks and learn about the seashore. We celebrate some extraordinary fossils in our Species of the Day this weekend.
  5. Walk on the wild side of Brighton. Head down to Brighton seafront and experience our free Wild Planet outdoor exhibition featuring some of the best wildlife images in the world. 80 panels make up this stunning promenade display of winning photographs from past Wildlife Photographer of the Year competitions.
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girl-silhouette.jpgWe are delighted that the Darwin Centre has been chosen for The Art Fund Prize 2010 long list.

 

There are countless reasons to vote the Darwin Centre your favourite for this prestigious art prize.

 

And if you vote for us to win the Art Fund Prize 2010 for museums and galleries you may also get to win a limited Jonathan Yeo art print. British artist, Jonathan Yeo is one of this year's judges.

 

It's the UK's largest single art prize. Last year's winner of the £100,000 prize was The Wedgewood Museum.

 

Voting and comments for the long list of 11 museums and galleries closes on 7 May. The short list voting opens on 17 May, so we'll keep you posted on our progress.

 

The first time I visited the Darwin Centre and cocoon building (seen left) last summer before it opened, it genuinely took my breath away. Aside from the sheer drama of the architecture and beauty of the wall projections, exhibits and interactives, there's so much to learn about what really goes on behind the science of nature.

 

The Darwin Centre really is a place you need to go back to again and again.

 

Since it's grand opening last September and the royal extravanganza attended by Prince William, the Darwin Centre and its spectacular cocoon building now welcomes about 2,500 visitors every day. Read the news story about the Art Fund Prize long list announcement.

 

If you haven't already visited, find out the many things that may inspire you by browsing our Visiting the Darwin Centre website. Or have a look at some of the recent photos in our Darwin Centre photo album on the Natural History Museum Facebook page.

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Museum spider expert, Jan Beccaloni, hands over Sarah to a slightly cautious Prince William

 

We've had amazing national and international coverage of the Darwin Centre's royal opening in the press and media, with more Darwin Centre features to come over the next few weeks. It was Prince William’s encounter with a Mexican red-knee tarantula called Sarah, in the centre's new Attenborough Studio, which seemed most popular in the headlines.

 

Here are some of my favourites so far:

 

ITV 10 O’Clock News

BBC News Online

BBC News Online video

The Daily Telegraph

US Post Today

Life Magazine online


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A beautiful butterfly dancer floats above the VIP guests during the celebrations

Some of us stayed in the office late on the royal opening night to get up-to-the-minute video footage of the royal celebrations and speeches on the website. And I put together a royal event highlights slideshow showing a few of the fantastic photos taken at the event.


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A day to remember

Posted by Rose Sep 15, 2009

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Prince William greets visitors in the Museum's Central Hall on his way to open the Darwin Centre

Rehearsals started early for those involved in yesterday's royal opening event for the Darwin Centre. In the cocoon building’s grand hallway, I managed to catch a run-through of the spectacular butterfly acrobatic dance scheduled for later on in the day, watch the elegant drinks tables receive their finishing touches and then collide with very large security policemen on my way back to the office. I was lucky to get a glimpse, as the event itself was only open to VIP guests and those involved in the celebrations. Later I put together this royal event highlights slideshow.

 

Back in the main Museum, as the time of arrival of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales at the Museum approached - he was expected at 14.30 – crowds gathered in the Central Hall to greet him on his way into the Darwin Centre down Dinosaur Way. For once, our famous Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton, usually the centrepiece of the Central Hall, was upstaged. As the Prince made his way through the Central Hall, onlookers waved flags adorned with red butterflies and many right at the front got personal handshakes. Prince William also acknowledged all the visitors and Museum staff who filled the Central Hall's grand staircase and overlooking gallery walkways.

 

The main celebrations kicked off at around 14.45 in the Darwin Centre as the incredible butterfly dance commenced to entertain the guests. While the Prince enjoyed the Cocoon tour, meeting scientists and exploring exhibits, guests revelled in a fantastic show above their heads in the grand entrance hall. A striking caterpillar dancer climbed up to a giant white flower suspended from the Darwin Centre ceiling, later to emerge as a gorgeous red-and-white butterfly. After spreading its wings, the male butterfly flew across the crowd and joined a female butterfly dancer in a dramatic aerial dance together.

 

Prince William was also taken on a Cocoon tour and shown the Attenborough Studio venue where he was introduced to Sarah, a huge tarantula. Not sure how much he enjoyed this bit! He was also filmed talking to our Interactive Media manager, Melissa Shaw, in front of the Centre’s amazing Climate Change Wall with one of the children from Royal Marsden hospital.

 

Then it was time for the speeches. Sir David Attenborough joined Prince William and Museum director Mike Dixon in praise of the new Darwin Centre and its vital importance today. Amidst a shower of red butterfly confetti from the dizzy heights of the cocoon building, Prince William declared the Darwin Centre officially open. Guests stayed on till after 19.00 in the evening to continue the celebrations.You can watch video clips of the speeches and royal visit on our website.

 

“It was a fantastic day,” said Serena Palmer, our Front of House Visitor Services manager. “Everything went like clockwork. No disasters. And the feedback from guests was absolutely brilliant!”

 

Today, there’s been a steady flow of eager visitors enjoying the newly-opened Darwin Centre and momentarily we all breathe a sigh of relief it is finally now open to the public…

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Atmospheric wall projection on the Cocoon tour

Yesterday, Tuesday 8 September, was the big preview of the new Darwin Centre to the press and media. Throughout the day journalists and film crews were shown around the whole Darwin Centre and Cocoon experience for the first time. It was a busy day and we are already getting a fabulous response in the papers, magazines and on TV. Here's some of the brilliant coverage so far, following yesterday's media event:

 

BBC  One O’clock News

BBC News online Day in pictures

Daily  Mail Online

Daily  Mirror

Daily  Telegraph

Guardian Online

Times  Online

New  Scientist online

 

Among the press and media favourites were the cocoon itself – the breathtaking building really is the star of the show – and on the Cocoon tour, both the planning an expedition and the mosquito challenge interactive games attracted lots of attention.

 

Press visitors had the added bonus of getting a free NaturePlus card that uses barcode technology to save exhibit highlights to enjoy online and enjoyed the unique chance to come face-to-face with scientists at work preparing specimens and ask them questions. Down on the centre’s ground floor, the spectacular interactive Climate Change Wall added another wow factor. The wall's images and films featured a lot in last night’s ITV 10 o’clock news special on the Darwin Centre.


Take a look at the new and updated wide-look Visiting the Darwin Centre website for a sense of what the fuss is all about. It features some of the latest photos taken by our Museum photographers at our special preview events and reveals much more about the centre's main attractions for visitors. I’ve worked day and night recently (in fact the security staff had to throw me out over the weekend!) to get these web pages ready in time for yesterday’s media launch.


There’ll be more online updates to come, so keep re-visiting the Darwin Centre website. Next stop, Monday 14 September when Prince William and Sir  David Attenborough arrive for the VIP launch, the day before public opening on 15 September…