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Easter highlights at the Museum

Posted by Rose Mar 28, 2013

From spotting exotic butterflies in the just-opened Sensational Butterflies exhibition out on the Museum's East lawn and examining real beetles in the Darwin Centre to discovering the most perfect thing in the Universe - the egg, or is it chocolate(?) - in a free talk, there’s heaps on for all ages at the Museum over the Easter holidays.




You can book free timed entry tickets for the Dinosaurs gallery if that’s what you’re planning to visit. But, if things get too busy in that area of the Museum, find your way to the Darwin Centre where kids will enjoy doing our Quest for the Curious challenge, and head over to the Red Zone on the other side of the Museum to enjoy the awesome Earth galleries and more amazing dinosaur displays in From the beginning (note, the earthquake simulator is offline at the moment while our Power Within gallery is closed for refurbishment).



Get a sneak peek inside the tropical butterfly house of Sensational Butterflies in the video above.

quest-curious-1000.jpgJoin in the Quest for the Curious challenges (above) at our week-long Easter free event for all the family.



How about doing your very own dodo trail? You'll find this iconic creature features in quite a few places in the Museum, including in the highly topical Extinction exhibition, the Birds gallery and in our recently-opened Treasures Cadogan Gallery (there's one more place too, but I'll leave you to discover it).


And look out for the 416 flower pots installation in the Images of Nature gallery as part of our India contemporary art exhibition.


Check our What’s on and What’s on for kids sections for the details of what to do during the holiday period, and follow NHM_Visiting on Twitter for updates on queues.


It's just over one month since we opened our beautiful permanent gallery showcasing the Museum's 22 most prized objects and specimens. In that short space of time, 1,000s of visitors, including HRH The Duchess of Cambridge (and the little royal on the way) who opened the gallery, have already enjoyed Treasures in the new Cadogan Gallery. Many of you have also been voting for your favourite exhibit in the gallery, and in our new year Top 10 Treasures poll, being huge and hairy is stll a winner for Guy the gorilla, who's at Number 1...  (You can select each image below to enlarge it.)

Your top 10 Treasures

1. Guy the gorilla


London Zoo’s much-loved resident, Guy, a western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), remains as majestic and iconic as he was in his time. Guy stands proudly at the righthand entrance of the Cadogan Gallery, at the top of the Central Hall's grand staircase, welcoming visitors into Treasures. It's great to think that he is regaining the popularity he had in life over 30 years ago. Listen out for our podcast coming soon, telling Guy's unique story from childhood star to preserved treasure here at the Museum.


2. Blaschka glass models of sea creatures


Glimmering away in the gallery at the other end to Guy, the 3 delicate Blaschka glass artworks of sea creatures are as enigmatic and eye-catching. They were made with impeccable accuracy using techniques no one has been able to replicate since. Giles Miller, Curator of Micropalaeontology, tells the story of how the Blaschka's went from cardboard box to Treasure on display in his own blog.

3. Dodo skeleton


The dodo skeleton on show is unmissable. There are so few complete skeletons that we may never know exactly how they looked or lived. The dodo is one of the first widely acknowledged cases of human-caused extinction. It's fame was secured by Lewis Carroll in his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

4. Neanderthal skull


This remarkable specimen in Treasures is the first adult skull of a Neanderthal ever discovered. They were our closest known relatives and this specimen helped begin the science of palaeoanthropology – the study of ancient humans.

5. Archaeopteryx fossil


Archaeopteryx is the earliest known bird and this is the first skeleton specimen ever found. It is the most valuable fossil in the Museum’s collection. This is the type specimen of the species, the one to which all others are compared. So for many, the chance to see this Archaeopteryx in person is a special joy.

6 On the Origin of Species book


We had to include this masterpiece in Treasures. It's an inspiration to view the rare first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. It is the most important book in biology, in which Darwin describes his theory of evolution by natural selection.

7. Great auk


You might not all know it, but the great auk is one of the most powerful symbols of the damage humans can cause. The species became extinct not through habitat loss, but due to centuries of intense exploitation.

8. Alfred Russel Wallace's insects


The gorgeous and diverse creatures in the insect case on display are from Alfred Russel Wallace’s personal collection. He co-discovered the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin. He kept very few of the specimens he collected.

9. Barbary lion skull


You can see why this lion was the jewel of the King’s zoo in the Tower of London 700 years ago. The skull and teeth are even more dramatic up close than we have already witnessed in photographs. It is also the oldest lion found in the UK after the extinction of native wild lions.

10. Hans Sloane's nautilus shell


Exquisitely carved, it is easy to imagine why this perfect shell was one of Sir Hans Sloane’s favourite specimens. You can really appreciate the intricate details in the carving as you observe the exhibit. Sloane's huge collection forms the core of the British and Natural History Museums.


Make sure you experience these and the other 12 amazing objects in Treasures on your next visit to the Museum. Each is accompanied by scientific information and there is more to unearth on the digital screens in the gallery. Entry to the new gallery is free.


Vote for your favourite treasure online

Get a glimpse inside the Treasures Cadogan Gallery in our audio slideshow


This week we heard the exciting news that last year's summer exhibition, Sexual Nature, has won the Museum + Heritage 2012 Award for best Temporary or Touring Exhibition. The team who conceived, produced and curated the exhibition were at the Awards Ceremony to celebrate. Among them was Mike Sarna, the Museum's Head of Exhibition Interpretation:


'Like everything the Natural History Museum does, the Sexual Nature exhibition helped to enthuse more people about the natural world. We are thrilled that the exhibition has been recognised for its excellence and we hope to build on that in the future with more eye-opening, thought-provoking exhibitions.


Museum staff celebrate Sexual Nature's award for best Temporary Exhibition at the prestigious Museums + Heritage 2012 Awards ceremony at Earls Court on Wednesday 16 May.

'Over 100 specimens from the Museum’s scientific research collections provided the main basis for the displays. Cases were filled with colourful birds for attracting, antlers for battling and my favourite "love darts” that certain snails shoot at each other as a sort of foreplay. Film was also key to bringing these specimens to life and demonstrating their sexual behaviours. Watching the many birds of paradise dance and manipulate their feathers for females was so fascinating to watch.


'We also included Isabella Rossellini’s humorous short Green Porno films. Of course museums are known for interactivity and I was delighted to see how many visitors smelt Jaguar spray, though those visitors might not be delighted with me.


'But the exhibition was also about us - very special sexual animals. The exhibition concluded with a reflective interactive section about human sexual diversity. These displays were in effect curated by you through our Facebook page where we asked people provocative questions about what true love and sex meant to them.


'Sexual Nature’s prime objective was to attract new audiences to the Museum. With the exhibition we asked visitors to leave their pre-conceptions at the door and aimed to shift perceptions by delivering engaging science on a core Natural History Museum subject, evolution. We tackled evolution through one of its most important drivers, sexual selection, in a way that was fun, humorous and informative. The Museum is all about transformation and the exhibition was a wonderful catalyst for wider discussion, including our public programmes. The topic was one of our most retweeted topics, so we know you loved talking about it too.


'The Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence celebrate best practice within museums, galleries and heritage visitor attractions and attract hundreds of entries from across the sector. Categories range from best permanent exhibition to innovation. The judges cited our amazing interpretation, our reaching out to new audiences and the bravery of the Museum to tackle a challenging topic. We are thrilled at its success and look forward to it's tour around the globe. If you missed the exhibition you might want to go to Paris in October for the opening of its international tour.'


The Temporary or Touring Exhibition Award category was hotly contended and we were up against strong competition including Derby Museums & Art Gallery's Down the Back of the Sofa, the Museum of London's Dickens and London and the National Army Museum's War Horse.



Read the news story about Sexual Nature opening in February 2011


Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence 2012