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Around the Museum

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Have you visited the Natural History Museum recently? Are you planning a visit?

Join us in these forums to discuss our exhibitions, share tips and discuss issues with other visitors and Museum staff and let us know what you think.

Have you visited our Images of Nature gallery, with its stunning images from the 17th century to modern-day CT scans? Have you explored the Cocoon in the Darwin Centre – what did you think? Are you planning to visit our latest exhibitions?


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What's new at the Museum blog

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Nov 6, 2014 Winter warmers: Wildlife wonders inside, ice skating outside

Late autumn and winter wouldn’t be the same without the Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition and outdoor Ice Rink.

 

The Waterhouse Gallery is now filled with amazing images of life under the sun, the moon, the stars, the rocks and water.

 

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The Wildlife Photographer exhibition opened in October to one of the busiest weeks on record and big media attention following the 50th competition’s awards ceremony.

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The winners were announced by Sir David Attenborough and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge at our glitzy event here.


Getting close to the back-lit photographs in the exhibition is the best way to appreciate the atmosphere and drama of each. There seem to be more creative images this year, moving ones too, which are really cool, so look out for these. And it's great to see more variety in the species photographed. Especially to find creatures like snakes, spiders and scorpions caught so enigmatically on camera. And there are, as usual, some glorious winter scenes to get us in the festive mood.

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Snowbird, by Edwin Sahlin from Sweden, was a finalist in the 15-17 Years category. Edwin used cheese and sausages to coax the Siberian jay captured in this shot.


Outside the Museum, the winter wonderland is all-embracing as the Ice Rink comes alive with skaters whizzing around the rink's giant Christmas tree. All framed by 1000s of fairy lights shimmering on the towering plane trees. Year after year, passers by stop to take pictures of this magical sight.


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Our Ice Rink is open late every night so you can swish about on the ice after hours. There are penguin helpers for those unsure on their feet (or blades), and for non-skaters there’s a great view (and plenty of refreshments) from the café bar.

 

This is one of the best seasonal delights of working at the Museum, seeing this sight every morning and evening on my way in and out of ‘the office’. But one I’m sad to say I’m going to miss out on in the future.

 

I am leaving the Museum for pastures new. I hope you’ve enjoyed my What’s new at the Museum blog over the years. And I’m sure others will bring you news of the many exciting things coming up in the months to come.

 

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Over and out, Rose de Freitas, What’s new at the Museum blogger.

 

Sep 22, 2014 Science Uncovered: our guide to the big night

Want to create your own earthquake? Extract some DNA from a strawberry, or try your hand at replicating Archaeopteryx feathers?


Our Nature Live team have been very busy coordinating many of the activities and displays for tonight. They guide us through some of the things you should not miss at our annual festival, celebrating European Researchers' Night. As usual, there's an energising, entertaining and enlightening mix of things to see and do and bars to socialise in. And the event is absolutely free.

 

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Visitors admiring the giant jaws on show at last year's Science Uncovered paleontology science station. Select images to enlarge.

 

With over 350 scientists filling the Museum galleries to talk about their work, Science Uncovered on 26 September is your chance to meet researchers and hear about the latest discoveries first-hand. It's an evening filled with wonder, sure to amaze and inspire all who attend.

 

To help visitors this year, we've split the event's activities and displays into three themed areas around the Museum. So you can explore Origins and Evolution in the Red Zone, Biodiversity in the Green and Blue Zones, and Sustainability in the Orange Zone. In each of the zones, you can have a drink with scientists to chat more about these themes and any related questions.

 

Origins and Evolution in the Red Zone

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Get the heads-up on early human habits and try some cave art in the Museum's Red Zone. Science Uncovered opens to the public from 15.00 on Friday 26 September.

 

In the Earth Hall galleries of the Red Zone, you can join Museum scientists to uncover hidden secrets of our ancestry. Learn about prehistoric life and have a go at cave painting. Assess the evidence and come to your own conclusion about whether ancient humans were cannibals. Learn how ice is used to tell us what life was like on early Earth. Mingle with the mammoths and discover how extinction has shaped life on Earth.

 

Star attractions: Boxgrove tibia and Archaeopteryx. Cave painting. Try replicating some Archaeopteryx feathers yourself!

Events in the Flett Theatre: 19.00 Professor Alice Robert's lecture on evolution. 20.30 Famelab sessions.

 

Biodiversity in the Green and Blue Zone

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Get close to extraordinary specimens at the Corals station, a sneak preview of what's to come in our Coral Reefs exhibition opening next year.

 

In the Biodiversity Zone we're focusing on life in our forests and oceans, and also right on our doorsteps. Investigate rare corals and shells and discover what they tell us about our oceans - get a taste of what's to come in next year's Coral Reefs exhibition. Meet our butterfly curator Blanca Huertas and several beetle scientists who've braved wild terrains in pursuit of rare species and see their collections. Get your own specimens identified at the UK Biodiversity station. Scuttle up to the Hintze Hall balconies to help digitise our extensive beetle collection.

 

Star attractions: See huge and rare corals from our forthcoming exhibition. Extract DNA from strawberries and bananas. Play your part in digitising our collection by labelling a beetle image (Crowdsourcing the Collection station).

Event highlights: Join Nature Games between 18.00-22.00. Drop in to Soapbox Scientist rants between 18.00-22.00. Britain exhibition opens late, but book tickets to avoid disappointment.

 

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Play your part: Extract DNA from a strawberry at the Forests station. Help digitise our beetle collection with our app, find out what to do at the Crowdsourcing the Collection station located in the central Hintze Hall balconies.

 

 

Sustainability in the Orange Zone

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One of the most beautiful exhibits at Science Uncovered, and not to be overlooked, is the intricate microfossil tree on display at the Climate Change station in the Sustainability Zone.


The Climate Change station is bound to be a focal point of this zone, highlighting the latest scientific thinking and research on this important subject. But insects make a big appearance too, from their role in food and forensics to the importance of pest and parasite research. And head to this zone for the Attenborough Studio talks, Spirit Collection Tours and the Wildlife Garden.

 

Star attractions: Create your own earthquake (British Geological Survey station). Seven metre-long tape worm (Parasites and Pests station). Exquisite microfossil tree created by Chinese scientist Zheng Shouyi from foraminiferal models (Climate Change station). Sip a scientifically inspired concoction (Cocktail Bar).

Event highlights: The Wildlife Garden - open until 21.00. Sampling Space talk in the Attenborough Studio at 19.00, with a live link to the Johnson Space Centre in Houston. Crime Scene Insects talk in the Attenborough Studio at 20.00.

 

 

This is, of course, a tiny taste of what to expect on the night. For the bigger picture, grab a map when you arrive or download it below or on our website. And don't forget to do the fun Stamped on Science trail, with the chance to win a year's Museum membership, and most importantly earn yourself (or the kids) a free LOLLIPOP!

 

 

Join the conversation with @NHM_London and the hashtag #SU2014.

Sep 13, 2014 Final flutter in Sensational Butterflies

We say farewell to our summer beauties this weekend on Sunday evening when the Sensational Butterflies outdoor exhibition closes for another year. This has been the sixth Museum butterfly exhibition and once again it's been a sensational hit with visitors.

 

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'What's great this year,' says Luke Brown, our butterfly house manager, 'is that in addition to our usual summer tourists, we've seen an increase in returning visitors.

 

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'Butterfly numbers have been higher than ever throughout the run of the exhibition and and we've spotted as many as 1,000 butterflies in one day. The diversity of species has been really rich too. The house can accommodate more than 1,000 happily, but that's a good limit for our nectar supplies.'

 

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Darting through the hothouse one last time today - and it is hot inside, be warned - there seem to be many of the bigger species fluttering around and, in particular, different swallowtails (above). And I don't think I've seen such a gathering of owl butterflies on the feeding table (below).

 

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One of the highlights we'll all remember about this summer's exhibition were the pictures of HRH Prince George's first birthday taken at Sensational Butterflies - the Duchess of Cambridge is our Patron of course. And we hope he'll be back again for his second and many more.

 

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On Sunday evening, the butterfly house team of staff and volunteers will work until sundown and then from first light on Monday to pack up all the inhabitants, who then wing their way over to Longleat in Wiltshire. Their next hothouse, in fact, used to belong to the Museum and was taken over by Longleat in 2008.

 

Luke flies off to Malta and after that Kuwait for more international butterfly projects and he'll be back next spring when our 2015 butterflies exhibition is due to open again.

 

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