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14 Posts tagged with the darwin_centre 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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We recently staged the first of our new art-and-play events in the Museum's Darwin Centre. This series of free public events is being held over peak holiday periods and invites visitors to explore nature and Museum science in unusual, playful ways. The events are designed especially for these times when the Museum's central areas can get crowded, and they offer families something fun and active to get involved in.

 

For those of you who missed out on the first event, or who wondered what it was all about, here's a round-up from Sarah Punshon, the curator of the Darwin Centre Arts programme.

 

'Over the August Bank holiday weekend, the Darwin Centre was taken over by children in colourful head-dresses; puppet birds, moths and caterpillars; competitive nut-hunting, nest-building and jigsaw-racing; crafting and art for our topically-themed Nature Games Weekend.

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A family joins in the nest-building activity. Artists and scientists all helped to create about 16 different activities for our Nature Games Weekend.

'Each day more than 6,000 visitors found their way into the Darwin Centre, led through other parts of the Museum, and 100s of them joined in the games and actvities. It was a wonderful event to be involved in, free to all, and we're already planning our next extravaganza for the October half-term holidays.

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Out-flapping a beetle was one of the many challenges in the weekend's Insect Sports Day.

'The nature games were specially created for us by artists and scientists. There were games which involved making things, drawing things, identifying things, or pretending to be things – plus a challenge trail linking various natural history tasks from pond-dipping to beetle-classifying.

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Joining the giant caterpillars as they travel through galleries towards the Darwin Centre.

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The massive moth flies around the Darwin Centre after hatching at the end of the Pests game.

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A crafty young man creates his own unique beetle as part of The Ersatz Entomologist activity.

'The Orange Zone's Darwin Centre showcases the Museum’s cutting-edge science, and gives families a chance to see behind the scenes. The centre's airy atrium space, its lofty Cocoon building and outdoor Courtyard make it a perfect space to host such events. We wanted to get families interacting together and it really succeeded in doing this.

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Trying your hand at identifying species: A family takes part in the Quest challenge. 112 teams completed this task over the weekend.

'It wasn't just the children who took part either, there was lots of fantastic interaction between parents and their kids. Seeing mums and dads dressed up as termites, identifying bugs and making nests, really encouraged the youngsters to get involved. It created a friendly and supportive learning atmosphere, which is what we were hoping for.

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Outside in the Darwin Centre Courtyard competitors hunt down different 'samples', using their giant magnifying glasses.

'The Nature Games Weekend was the result of a creative collaboration with award-winning games design studio, Hide&Seek. Games designers were matched with scientists to help them develop their work. For example, lichenologist Holger Thues kindly spent time explaining the ways scientists use UV light to distinguish between different species of lichen – leading to an exciting game outside in the Courtyard called UV Detectives.

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Energetic young players go for it in the Ants vs Termites game.

'I'd like to thank all the Museum staff and volunteers who worked so hard at making the event brilliant fun for visitors, and also our artists and games designers, Andy Field, Josh Hadley, Kai-Oi Jay Yung, Simon Watt, Caroline Gardiner, Matthew Robins, and all at Hide&Seek.

 

'We all learned masses from this first event, hopefully our second one will be even better!  So look out for The Campsite, which will be happening over October half-term. Watch this space for more details...'

Enjoy a few more Nature Games Weekend pictures. Select images to enlarge them

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A young player racing to piece together The Puzzle of the Mysterious Creature

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Mum and son take part in the blindfold In Spirit challenge.

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Hunting for nuts in the Squirrels game

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Actor John Hinton calls on visitors to join the Quest for the Curious

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This family 'donated' themselves to our collection... and learned about the importance of labelling specimens correctly!


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Our Big Nature Day on 27 May is a special kind of celebration and a brilliant day out for anyone who's interested in the natural world, whatever their age. It is the largest free event of its kind in the UK, and this year we've invited more than 50 nature groups from across the country to join us.

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Get bug-faced and hatted for the Insect Parades led by the insect band performing on stilts at our nature festival. Select images to enlarge them

One of the big excitements on Sunday is sure to be the Insect Parade led by the colourful insect band from the Museum's Darwin Centre atrium. In the morning and at lunchtime, children can drop into workshops with the street theatre company Emergeny Exit Arts to make bug-themed hats and then follow the parades - scheduled for 13.00 and 15.30 - through the Museum wearing their creations. Face painters are at hand to help kids look their buggy best.

 

Like last year, there will be marquees on the Courtyard and this is where you'll find most of the visiting nature group displays. 'It's really exciting to welcome so many voluntary nature groups across the country to the Museum - what a fantastic chance for our visitors to meet so many wildlife experts in one place,' says Lucy Carter from the OPAL citizen science project. Popular stands are bound to be The London Wildlife Trust's stag beetles and the Bat Conservation Trust's where they will be investigating bat poo!

 

Worm charming sessions take place under the Courtyard trees and several nature talks will be held in the Museum's Attenborough Studio. A Busy Bee Puppet Show workshop will entertain the little ones in the morning.

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Out in the Wildlife Garden you can get into pond-dipping, bug hunting, ladybird counting, leaf and nettle trailing, and more. We're interested in recording the species found in our garden, so scientists and volunteers will be around to help with finds and identification advice. We'll also be welcoming a group of cub scouts to the garden who are trying out their brand new Cub Scout Naturalist Activity Badge resource (the badge is pictured below).

 

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Over on the West Lawn, look out for the Bee aware display in the marquee and the National Trust's 'shepherd's hut'.

 

And remember, this is the national Be Nice to Nettles Week, so mind where you tread.

 

Big Nature Day celebrates the UN International Day of Biological Diversity and OPAL's nature activities and citizen science projects.

 

More details about Big Nature Day.

 

Find out which nature groups will be at Big Nature Day

 

 

 

Enjoy the video clip below of last year's Big Nature Day

 

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There's no doubt about it, when you join us for our Big Nature Day extravaganza this Sunday on 22 May, you'll get your hands dirty.


But that's pretty essential if you're going to help our scientists and wildlife experts in the Big Nature Count to find and identify how many different species of plant and animal there are in our Museum Wildlife Garden. It's a 24-hour census - or a bioblitz race for those familiar with the term -  to celebrate International Day for Biological Diversity and International Year of Forests, as well as the start of the UN's Decade on Biodiversity.

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Can you handle it? Find out which worm charmer to be on Big Nature Day with our experts in the BBC film clip on our website

As Stuart HIne, manager of our Centre for UK Biodiversity says: 'We have many visitors to the Wildlife Garden, from our regular human ones to more unusual visitors such as honeybees, damselflies and hawkmoths. In fact, since the garden opened in 1995, we’ve recorded more than 2,000 different species and it would be great to know what's about on Sunday.'

 

Along with the regular Big Nature Count guided tours, worm charming (above) will be a popular highlight of the day. There are two sessions at 12.00 and 15.00. The recent rain should help lure the worms to the ground's surface. Although we're hoping that the sun will shine gloriously on the day, of course.

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Spot the spots on the ladybirds you find and watch out for cockchafer May bugs on the Big Nature Count guided tours. Select images to enlarge

Other garden action includes the Bugs Count, Tree Hunt, moth trap checking, investigating pond life, and check out the Bee Tree.

 

Inside the Darwin Centre, head over to the Specimen Roadshow to identify your favourite specimens (or bring in a picture) and there are nature talks in the Darwin Centre's Attenborough Studio.

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Look around and above, plants and trees may hide moths (like this Poplar hawkmoth, left) and butterflies. There are eight common trees in the Wildlife Garden to identify. Select images to enlarge

Take pictures on the day

Most important of all, though, bring your cameras or have your mobile phone to the ready to snap the species you do manage to spot. With these, you can help us create a spectacular Photo Wall in the Darwin Centre atrium at the Interactive Media area. You can print your pictures here for the display or upload them with your comments to our Big Nature Day guestbook on the computers available or at home afterwards.

 

Big Nature Day is a free, drop-in event that will appeal to all ages, but you'll need to book on the tours and worm charming sessions.

 

When you arrive at the Museum head for the West lawn or Darwin Centre atrium where you'll be directed to the Base Camp in the Darwin Centre Courtyard, the hub for the day's activities, and where you can see lots of special displays.

 

Keep up to date on our Big Nature Day website for the Big Nature Count tours schedule and latest information

 

Get prepared for the activities on Big Nature Day by watching some great how-to nature videos on our website

 

Explore the Museum's Wildlife Garden

 

Discover what else is on for the International Year of Biodiversity

 

Visit our newly-launched Decade on Biodiversity website

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand film treats at the French Institute on 22 May and on the International Year of Forests website

If you want to see an amazing nature documentary by The Earth From Above photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, head over to the nearby French Institute for a special free screening of Home at 18.30. Our Museum botanist Sandy Knap is introducing the film. Although it's free you need to book a place on their website.

 

Find out about booking for the special screening of Home at the French Institute

 

You can also catch a glimpse of Yann's special short fiilm for the International Year of Forests on the official website

 


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Today, we unveiled our innovative new interactive film to the public. And if you haven't heard of augmented reality before, you will now.

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A Coelophysis dinosaur roams the Attenborough Studio in Who do you think you really are?

Who do you think you really are? tells the story of our evolutionary past and uses advanced technology to blend CGI graphics and a live video stream, to literally bring prehistoric creatures to life in the film's studio. It is narrated by Sir David Attenborough and projected on 3 large screens in the Attenborough Studio.

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From your seat in the studio, and using the attached unique handset (shown right), you'll interact with the film and witness creatures and objects from the film appear and move right in front of you.

 

A Coelophysis dinosaur (above) and Homo erectus will strut around you and an intricate tree of life stretch upwards majestically. It's the first time that augmented reality has been used in a public, learning space like this.

 

'We wanted to use a whole arsenal of media and technologies,' says Alisa Barry, our Interactive Department's director and executive producer of the film. 'We have peppered the studio with infra-red. This allows the camera in the handheld computers to track movements and position the animation correctly.'

 

In addition to the wow factor of the film, you'll learn a lot about exactly how we are related to prehistoric creatures and even bananas.

 

The film is showing daily in the Attenborough Studio and is free.

 

Find out about the interactive film, Who do you think you really are?

 

Read the news story about the interactive film

 

After you've been to the film, you can visit our NaturePlus community and sign in to explore more augmented reality on your home webcam and continue the film's evolutionary journey further.

 

Visit NaturePlus

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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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On Friday 24 September, 2 weeks from now, we are planning our biggest-ever after hours event, Science Uncovered. It promises to be an amazing science festival and more.

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The Museum opens its doors until 22.00 on Friday 24 September for its biggest-ever After Hours

If you've ever wanted to visit the Museum for an evening drink and never quite made it, this is the night you should come.

 

As well as being a historic, atmospheric venue for Friday night drinks, it's the perfect event to recapture your first vivid Museum encounters as a child, like T.rex and the blue whale. As well as discover new treasures and the latest scientific and natural history research going on behind the scenes.


The event is free and the Museum's doors will stay open until 22.00. Although it's mainly for adults, there are earlier family events and shows starting about 16.00 in the afternoon. Science Uncovered is part of European Researchers' Night happening across Europe, so on the night there will be over 200 cities in Europe having their own celebrations.

 

You'll find all the details of the event on our Science Uncovered website. But in a nutshell here's what's happening:

 

We'll have 3 bars open, 26 exclusive Museum tours you can join, 9 science stations around the Central Hall to stop by and meet scientists and explore 'star' specimens, 5 special nature talks in the Darwin Centre Attenborough Studio and a Natural History Roadshow in Dinosaur Way.

 

Over 50 of our scientists and curators are your friendly hosts throughout the evening.

 

In the next 2 weeks you'll be hearing more about the exciting and inspiring things to enjoy on the night.

 

One of the special attractions of our big event is The Science Bar in the Central Hall Cafe. Here you can join scientists for a drink at tables, in an informal atmosphere, and chat about hot science topics listed on the menu cards at the tables. You'll also be able to chat with scientists face-to-face at a variety of science stations that you'll find around the Central Hall and in the Darwin Centre and Fossil Way.

 

Before you come, maybe think about some questions you've always wanted to ask a scientist or curator. This is your chance to ask them face to face. But don't worry if you haven't got any questions, the night is for you to enjoy the galleries and listen in too.

 

Here are just a few of the scientists you may bump into during the evening.

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At the Science Bar. L to r: Roland Jenner, zoologist, on 'Is science noble?'. Karen James, botanist, on 'What stops women in science?'. Paul Taylor, palaeontologist, on 'Are we in the midst of a mass extinction?' Amoret Whitaker, forensic entomologist, on 'Would you donate your body to a body farm?'

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Face to Face science stations. L to r: Richard Sabin, mammals curator, zoology station. Sandy Knapp, botanist, botany station. Eva Valsami-Jones, nanosciences researcher, European Researchers' station. Mike Rumsey, mineralogist, mineralogy station.

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Museum tours. L to r: Alan Hart, mineralogist, The Vault gallery. Susie Maidment, palaeontology researcher, Dinosaurs torchlit tour. Roberto Miguez, zoologist, Whale Hall tour. Alex Martin, science lab manager, DNA lab tour.

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Scientists talks. L to r: Jon Ablett, zoology curator, The Giant Squid. Heather Bonney, human remains palaeontologist, A Body of Evidence. Geoff Boxshall, zoologist, Life in the Oceans. Adrian Glover, marine biologist, Mysteries of the Deep.

 

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We have lots of festivities planned this weekend to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity, IBD, on Saturday, 22 May, and Nettle Weekend on 22 and 23 May.

Biodivesity festival at the Museum, 22 May

From painting a new Elephant Parade sculpture and the launch of the Young Darwin Prize for young natural history reporters and Biking for Biodiversity to our science roadshow and live quartet music, our biodiversity day festival here promises a packed programme of events for visitors.

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We've just heard Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games (right) from BBC Springwatch are our hosts for the day.

 

During the day there will be various talks in the Attenborough Studio on topics like 'Big, Beautiful Nature' and 'Food Biodiversity', with link-ups to other national festivities.

 

For more details, visit our International Day for Biological Diversity webpage.

 

elephant-parade-painted-tall.jpgMost of our IBD events are focused around the Darwin Centre. This week we officially launched the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, which is in the Darwin Centre, so drop in and see what it's all about if you get the chance.

 

We join over 400 organistations, charities and groups across the UK celebrating International Year of Biodiversity. The fun has already begun this week with highlights including walking with wolves, taking part in BioBlitzes, and Scottish Highland safaris.

 

Find out about events taking place across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the International Year of Biodiversity in the UK website.

 

Read about Elephant Parade at the Museum in my earlier blog.

Nettle Weekend in our Wildlife Garden and across the Museum, 22 - 23 May685px-Urtica_dioica06_ies.jpg

As part of our biodiversity celebrations and the national 'Be Nice to Nettles Week', we are also hosting Nettle Weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

 

Many of us tend to be put off by nettles from an early age, but the merits of the common nettle should be discovered anew. For starters, without stinging nettles, the caterpillars of peacock, small tortoiseshell and red admiral butterflies would miss their favourite food plant.

 

Nettle-based activities, food and drink in the Wildlife Garden, a yurt on our West lawn showcasing nettle herbal medicine and textiles, and the nettle quiz are a few of the many highlights over Nettle Weekend. You'll discover the history and value of nettles and there are talks with nettle experts in our Attenborough Studio. Find out about Nettle Weekend.


You can learn some fascinating stuff about nettles and their stings on the official nettle website and look out for our Urtica dioica (common nettle) Species of the Day on Sunday, which is Nettle Day, when we examine the nettle's taxonomy, uses and habitat.

   
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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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We've had BBC TV crews here for over a year now, filming behind the scenes and interviewing our scientists and curators. Finally, the wonderful Museum of Life series will start next week on Thursday 18 March at 8pm on BBC Two.

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Museum of Life presenters in the Museum's Central Hall, left to right: Kate Bellingham, Chris van Tulleken, Jimmy Doherty, Mark Carwardine and Liz Bonnin

The BBC's website describes the Museum of Life documentary as 'a story of mysteries, dinosaurs, diamonds and audacious attempts to hold back extinction'. Viewers will get a real insight into some of the work our scientists do at this much-loved institution, as well as hear the stories of our most amazing natural history specimens.

 

Jimmy Doherty, from BBC's Jimmy's Farm, hosts the new series. In his youth, Jimmy was a volunteer here at the Museum and he is obviously thrilled to be involved in it. On Saturday Kitchen last weekend, he revealed what 'a corker' the new series is going to be and described it as 'full of jaw-dropping moments'.

 

We've just posted a video trailer on the Museum of Life website where you'll find lots more information about the series.

 

After each episode we'll also be running an online discussion forum here on NaturePlus for viewers to post questions to some of the Museum scientists featured in each episode. So watch this space for details.

 

Also during each episode we will be tweeting and to get the latest information live, make sure you are following us on Twitter at Natural History Museum on twitter.

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As an aside, a great news story has just come out today about how the filming of the Museum of Life series helped to solve the 120-year-old mystery of a gunned-down African goliath beetle specimen in our collection...

 

Read the news article about Who shot Goliath? Natural history mysteries revealed in new TV series.

 

Click to enlarge this x-ray image of the bird-sized goliath beetle, Goliathus goliatus, showing shotgun wounds.

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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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Name a new species competition

Posted by Rose Sep 16, 2009
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The unnamed parasitic wasp is actually more elegant than its descriptive name suggests

 

To mark the opening of the new Darwin Centre, we have teamed up with the Times to offer people the chance to name a new species of parasitic wasp. The Ecuadorian wasp is 6cm long, ignoring the antennae (which is the way our scientists measure insect body length), and the specimens are in the Darwin Centre collections.


Find out more and how to enter the 'name the species of new wasp' competition online. The closing date for entries is 18 October 2009.

 

The genus name is not up for grabs as we know the wasp belongs to the genus Umanella (there was one previous species described from Costa Rica,  Umanella caerulea). Its just the species name that is available.


I don't think I can enter the compeition as it is not open to the staff at the Natural History Museum or the Times (wouldn't be fair to have any of our experts involved, I guess). But if I could, my suggestion would be... Umanella darwincentri.

 

Before you choose your species name, why not learn a bit about how our Museum experts go about naming species? For non-science bods, taxonomy is the scientific name for identifying and classifiying organisms. A lot of our Museum scientists spend time on taxonomic research.


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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…