With its cathedral-like structure, frescoes and sculptures, the Museum's Central Hall forms a fantastic backdrop to some of the highlights of the Museum's collection including a Diplodocus skeleton and a 1,300-year-old giant sequoia. Charles Darwin's famous statue sits at the top of the hall's grand staircase.
To commemorate this year's 100th anniversary of eminent scientist Alfred Russel Wallace's death, his portrait has been hung in the Central Hall, near the statue of Charles Darwin. Wallace is credited alongside Darwin as the co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection.
The portrait was unveiled by comedian and natural historian Bill Bailey at the launch of the Museum's Wallace100 events programme.
Read the news story about our celebrations for the centenary of Wallace's death.
Travel through centuries of evolution and see the wonders of the Museum collection by exploring the bays in this unique building designed by Alfred Waterhouse.
Don’t worry – it’s a plant eater. The Diplodocus dinosaur lived 150 million years ago and, at 26 metres, was one of the longest land animals ever to live. This replica skeleton was presented to the Museum in 1905.
The giant moa is our latest addition to the Central Hall alcoves. This feathered life-size model stands an impressive 3 metres high. It was made for the renowned zoologist Walter Rothschild more than 100 years ago using emu feathers. It is on loan from our Museum at Tring. The giant moa, Dinornis robustus, is one of the world's most famous extinct birds. It was flightless and came from New Zealand.
Two hundred years before Darwin, physician Edward Tyson saw a link between humans and other apes when he studied this skeleton of a young chimpanzee. The animal was brought from Africa to England in 1698, but died soon after.
Naturalists believed the coelacanth had died out 85 million years ago. So it caused a sensation when a live one was caught off the coast of South Africa in 1938. Since then, a colony of these bony fish has been found off the coast of the Comoro Islands.
The Glyptodon is an extinct herbivore that died out about 10,000 years ago. It was a relative of the modern armadillo, but much larger, growing to about 3 metres from head to tail.
The Glyptodon was named by Sir Richard Owen in 1839.
This majestic, 2.2-tonne marble statue of Charles Darwin overlooks the Central Hall from the grand staircase. The statue returned to this prime position in May 2008 for Darwin's 200th birthday celebrations in 2009. It was created by Sir Joseph Boehm and first unveiled in 1885. Read the Darwin statue move article
At the very top of the Central Hall you’ll find a section of trunk from the enormous giant sequoia tree. These trees are the biggest living things and the exhibit gives you an idea of how huge they are. This tree was over 1,300 years old when it was felled.