Highlights slideshow

The Cocoon houses millions of insect and plant specimens. Beautiful displays, interactive exhibits and touch-screens reveal the science within. 

Take the glass lift to the seventh floor for a self-led tour. Your journey descends two gently sloping floors on different levels and you exit on the fifth floor in the Conclusion Zone. Enjoy some highlights in this slideshow.

Entrance is free. Tour time: about 45 minutes. No advance booking required.

Cocoon butterfly display

Discover hundreds of specimens and objects on your Cocoon tour, from butterflies and beetles to huge tarantulas, metre-high plants and historic herbariums.

Look in on our laboratories and watch research in action.

View from the 7th floor of the cocoon

At the start of your Cocoon journey take in the spectacular views, including the top of the magnificent futuristic building you are about to explore.

The Intro table in the Darwin Centre

Examine bees, brightly coloured butterflies, poppies and all sorts of spiders set in a huge translucent table as you come out of the lift at the top of the Cocoon

Touch-screen displays offer detail about the spectacular specimens.

Use your NaturePlus card here and start collecting content to explore later online.

Projected biodiversity graphics on the wall in Cocoon

Beautiful botanical and insect wall projections create a unique atmosphere throughout the Cocoon experience.

'Meeting your guides' projection

Your virtual science guides on the Cocoon tour are Museum insect and plant experts Jan (above), Blanca, Mark and Max. Throughout your tour you will hear from them about the science that takes place inside the Darwin Centre.

Discover more about our science guides

Glass cabinet in cocoon

Stop at the large glass specimen case filled with more than 300 plant and insect specimens. See how scientists categorise living things into groups. Touch the glass to light up the specimens in more detail. Look out for unusual species such as the 15cm elephant beetle and the 70cm kiwi fruit.

Close-up of a mosquito model in Cocoon

Spend some time at the fascinating Decoding DNA area, opposite the molecular lab where more than 3,000 mosquito species are studied. Exhibits and videos explore DNA and the spread of disease. 

Play The Challenge interactive game to control malaria, and inspect the large female mosquito model, above.

Boy using butterfly identify screen in Coon

Become a butterfly expert and identify species using the animated What's in a Name touch-exhibit at the Organising Nature display. Discover how Museum scientists order natural history collections and choose names for new species. 

Visitors playing the 'Planning Your Trip' interactive game

Study the eye-catching wall display of fieldwork expedition equipment as you descend the sixth floor. Try planning an expedition to South America or Scotland on the touch-screen displays. Follow the video guide's instructions and see how well prepared you’d be.

Watch science trip video diaries at nearby displays.

Visitors observing the scientists while they work

Learn about the life of a working Museum scientist at the Specimen Preparation Area (SPA) on the sixth floor. Talk to scientific staff through the two-way microphone as they prepare and conserve specimens from around the world.

A visitor viewing the contents of a Collection Drawer

Pull out collection drawers at the Looking After the Collection display area on the fifth floor. Examine our precious collections through 4cm-thick fire and pest-proof glass.

Conclusion Zone

Before you leave the Cocoon, stop in the Conclusion Zone and try out the Inside Explorer Table. Swipe the 55-inch screen to rotate, slice and peel away the layers of specimens, including a bee-fly and an anglerfish.

Continue exploring Cocoon later with your NaturePlus card. 

Learn more about NaturePlus online