Newly redeveloped Hintze Hall to open 14 July
The Museum's spectacular new central space will reopen on 14 July - and visitors can win an exclusive tour and be the first to experience it.
The star of the new Hintze Hall will be a blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling. For the first time, the public will be able to walk underneath the largest animal ever to have lived.
Appearing to dive through the centre of the room, the whale will take centre stage among hundreds of new displays across three floors. Ten other star specimens will be arranged in alcoves on the ground floor.
The new specimens range from mammals to meteorites, representing the history of this planet - from the beginning of the solar system to the biodiversity of the present day.
Visitors will be able to explore the room and its new specimens from 10.00 on 14 July.
Be the first to see it
The Museum is celebrating the grand opening with a free prize draw for members of the public to be among the first people in the world inside the finished hall.
The winner and up to five guests will be taken on a private tour of the space before it opens to the general public. They'll be able to walk underneath the blue whale skeleton, explore the displays and take part in an opening ceremony.
The prize also includes a two-night stay in a London hotel and travel costs for each person, up to £175.
A further 200 runners up will also be invited to attend the opening ceremony with one guest.
To be in with a chance of winning, you need to enter the free prize draw by 31 May.
A big arrival
Curators, conservation teams and engineers worked on the blue whale skeleton for months - mostly in an off-site warehouse due to its enormous size – cleaning and preparing it for its new home in Hintze Hall.
The 25.2-metre skeleton arrived back at the Museum in April 2017, and teams are now readying it for July's grand unveiling.
A new icon
The whale takes the place of Dippy the Diplodocus, the dinosaur skeleton cast which previously stood in the centre of the hall and is soon to be embarking on a tour of the UK.
The blue whale is a symbol of Earth's great biodiversity and an icon of hope for the future.
In 1966, the blue whale became the first animal to be protected by international law, after decades of aggressive hunting by humans drove the species to the brink of extinction.
After hunting was banned by the International Whaling Commission in 1966, blue whale numbers began to slowly recover.
Placing this whale in the centre of the Museum is a public reminder of humanity's responsibility to protect the ecology of the planet.
Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Museum, says: 'The natural world is changing fast and so are we. It's in our grasp to shape a sustainable future - but our decisions have to be informed by understanding our past and present. The blue whale is a perfect symbol of this story of hope.
'To share this story far and wide we are offering lucky winners of our free prize draw the chance to be some of the first in the world to see Hintze Hall. I look forward to welcoming them to the Museum.'
- Find out more about the Hintze Hall redevelopment and how we are building a Museum for the future
- Learn more about Dippy's UK tour
- News: BBC Horizon to document transformation of Hintze Hall