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What's new at the Museum

3 Posts tagged with the treasures tag

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


Find the famous Archaeopteryx dino-bird fossil in Trafalgar Square, a 200-million-year-old ammonite on Albert Bridge, Hans Sloane's beautiful carved shell in Sloane Square, or Iguanodon's tooth among Crystal Palace's dinosaur sculptures...


From east to west, inner to outer, there are 12 natural history treasures hiding in 12 London locations and it's your challenge to find and collect them this weekend, 24 and 25 November. Our Treasures: The Hunt game celebrates the Museum's new Treasures gallery, which opens next week and anyone in London can play. There's a great prize up for grabs too.


Discover London's links to the Museum and some of its natural history hotspots this weekend on The Hunt trail. From the Tower of London to Crystal Palace, at 12 locations - some well-known, others less so - you can collect a Museum treasure, revealed in raised drawings on display stands with the Museum's Treasures logo. The Hunt celebrates the opening of our new Treasures gallery on 30 November where 22 of our most valuable and historic objects will go on show. Select the images to enlarge them.


Of course, it's not the real specimens that you'll come across but drawings of them on display stands like the one pictured here (right). At each display you can take a rubbing of the drawing and send this in to us for a chance to win an exclusive party in our new Treasures gallery for you and 25 guests (worth £8,000 I'm told).


All you need to do is download The Hunt map and collection sheet and follow the instructions of how to enter. Or visit one (or as many as you can) of 12 locations in London between 10.00 and 16.00 this weekend, where there are also collection sheets and instructions at the display plinth.


These are the 12 London locations featured on The Hunt trail:


  • Trafalgar Square (NB only opens at 12.00 noon on Sunday)
  • Tower of London
  • Sloane Square
  • SouthBank Centre (Riverside)
  • Linnean Society, Piccadilly
  • Soho Square
  • Grant Museum of Zoology (UCL, University Street)
  • Kensington Gardens, (Palace Gate)
  • Kennington Road (Mead Row/Cosser Street)
  • Battersea Park (Albert Bridge)
  • Cyrstal Palace Park (Lower lake)
  • National Maritime Museum (Greenwich)


You could just visit the nearest place to where you are on the day and submit your collection sheet with just the one rubbing completed or you could become a really dedicated collector and try for all 12; it's possible as one of us did a trial run and visited all the locations in a day! Obviously the more you collect and send in to us, the more chance you'll have of winning the prize.


How to enter The Hunt's free prize draw: At each of the 12 locations you visit, fill the empty jar on the printed collection sheet by doing a rubbing with a crayon or pencil of the drawing on the plinth. Each rubbing proves you have been to that location and each filled jar you send us gives you a chance to enter The Hunt prize draw and win the prize.

London is one of the most intensively investigated areas for archaeology, but it still throws up some surprises. Crocodiles have been found in Islington, a giant ox in Knightsbridge and a rhinoceros under Battersea Power Station. During the building of Trafalgar Square bits of bison were brought up, a spotted hyena, tiny fragments of brown bear and the remains of at least two woolly mammoths.


On The Hunt trail, you'll be surprised by some of London's stories of our early natural history collectors, and find out what the most valuable objects in the Museum's collection are - which will soon be revealed in the Treasures gallery.


Treasures: The Hunt was designed by the social games studio Hide&Seek. Its director Alex Fleetwood, says: ‘There are so many sites across London that have amazing natural history stories attached – weird things that happened there, unlikely animals, hidden rivers. We're sending people out on a treasure hunt with a difference to explore these sites – and the more of them they visit, the greater their chances of winning the great prize.'


Find out about Treasures: The Hunt and download the map and instructions


Get a glimpse of the Treasures gallery opening to the public on 30 November


Read the news story to find out more about The Hunt this weekend