About the Darwin Centre

The Darwin Centre protects and houses the Museum's most valuable specimen collections. It is a public gallery and events space for visitors and a world-leading research facility. Our scientists work here.

Darwin Centre supporters

Designed by internationally renowned C F Møller Architects of Denmark, construction began in June 2006. The Darwin Centre opened to the public on 15 September 2009.

The Centre cost £78 million and took around 25 months and 280 people to build it.

The building is the most significant expansion of the Museum since it moved to South Kensington in 1881.

There are 80 million specimens at the Natural History Museum with 17 million insects and three million plant specimens looked after in the Darwin Centre and its Cocoon building.

Cocoon architectural highlights:
  • The 8-storey, 65m-long cocoon is the largest sprayed concrete, curved structure in Europe.
  • The Cocoon's surface is 3,500 square metres of hand-finished polished plaster, bound in steel channels resembling silk threads.
  • The 30 steel columns are each 28 metres long. At construction, they were the longest columns ever transported through London.
  • The atrium's stone floor is natural limestone from Portland in the UK.
  • The building is designed to high sustainability standards, including thermal insulation for the collections and an innovative lighting system to save energy.

View the Cocoon building from all angles in our architectural slideshow