21 things to do this spring for adults

Look up: spot fruit trees with lemons and pears, and garden favourites such as rhododendrons, irises and sunflowers on the ceiling in Hintze Hall. 

Hello? Is it spring you're looking for?

With longer and (hopefully) warmer days, get ready to shake off the layers and explore 21 things to do this spring.

  • March - May 2019

1. See a unicorn of the sea

The spiral shape of a male narwhal's tusk may have played a part in the way unicorn horns have been depicted from medieval times to today. Head to the Mammals (blue whale) gallery on 9 April for Unicorn Day, where you can see a two-tusked narwhal up close.

Permanent, free

2. Celebrate Audubon Day

It's Audubon Day on 26 April. Visit the Birds gallery to see six of John James Audubon's iconic prints including the striking American flamingo and American white pelican. 

In the Treasures gallery you can view one of the original plates from the valuable book.

Permanent, free

3. Get up close to fantastic beasts

Discover where the real and wizarding worlds intertwine, and how the wonders of the natural world have inspired myths, legends and magical creatures for generations.  

Postponed until further notice.

4. Spring to life

As you'd expect, the Wildlife Garden is pretty spectacular this time of year. Keep an eye out for local wildlife in your own garden too, and find out more about British wildlife.

Free, no ticket required
Until 31 March: 10.00-15.30
From 1 April: 10.00-17.00

5. Wish Sir David Attenborough a happy birthday

He won't actually be here on his birthday (8 May), but you can be guided around Hintze Hall's star specimens by the best voice in the biz, see an Attenborosaurus (an extinct marine reptile) or visit the gogotte in Lasting Impressions, donated in 2017 in honour of Sir David's ninetieth birthday.

Permanent, free

6. Experience nature up close

See remarkable images of animals in their natural environments, including a long-tailed tit pecking at an icicle, a lone American bison facing a blizzard and a hare in a winter wonderland, all at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

Until 28 June, adult £13.95, concession £10.95

Sleeping like a Weddell by Ralf Schneider. The photo was taken in Larsen Harbour, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

7. Meet a scientist

Come to Nature Live to meet our scientists and learn about their latest research. The topical talks run for 30 minutes every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Attenborough Studio.

Free, no ticket required

8. Become a detective

We know we're not the only ones binge-watching crime documentaries. If you always know whodunit before the cops do, why not put your forensic skills to the test?

Solve a gruesome murder by figuring out time of death using bugs, analysing fingerprints and decoding blood spatter patterns.

28 May, adult £59, Member £53.10

9. Can you find the hidden fruit salad?

It's somewhere you'd least expect. Look past the blue whale skeleton in Hintze Hall and at the 162 ceiling panels. Arranged in sets of six, the illustrations show the familiar and the exotic to the British Isles. See if you can spot lemons, oranges, apples, figs, grapes and peaches. 

Permanent, free

10. Explore the Museum after dark at Lates

Roam the galleries with a drink in hand, meet scientists at pop-up science stations and gaze at Hope lit up in Hintze Hall at our monthly Lates event.

In March we take a look at unloved animals, April sees us embarking on a tour of London and in May we're exploring extinction.

11. Check out the balcony displays in Hintze Hall

Explore the seabirdpheasantrock and mineral displays on the first-floor balcony in Hintze Hall. 

Seabirds and pheasants can be found to the left of the main staircase, while rocks and minerals are on the right. 

Permanent, free

12. Shed those winter layers

Take a deep breath and stretch out under the blue whale at a morning yoga class hosted in collaboration with East of Eden. After a live gong bath to finish the session, explore the galleries before the Museum opens to the public.

27 April and 17 May

13. Celebrate mothers in nature

Resembling modern fish and dolphins, the fossil specimens in the Fossil Marine Reptiles gallery include a female ichthyosaur with evidence of six unborn young in her womb, and one that died and was preserved in the process of giving birth.

See them both opposite the entrance to the Birds gallery.

Permanent, free

14. Have a hoot

It's easy to overlook this wide-eyed favourite in a mad dash to see the dinosaurs. Keep your eyes peeled in the Birds gallery and you may notice a small owl's head with a blue pencil in its ear (no, those fluffy tufts are not ears).

Permanent, free 

15. Finding marlin

The striking blue marlin in Hintze Hall is the largest of the Atlantic marlins and a fierce predator - it's also a chunky fellow, as one of the heaviest fishes in the ocean.

After losing its way, the four-metre long specimen was found stranded on a Pembrokeshire beach in September 2016. Scientists had to come up with an innovative preservation technique to keep the specimen suitable for display.

Permanent, free

16. Take a countryside jaunt

Did you know the Museum has a sister site in the countryside? The Natural History Museum at Tring, Hertfordshire, was built in 1889 to house the incredible zoological collections of the eccentric Walter Rothschild.

From 14 March, examine animal mummies given as gifts to the ancient Egyptian gods and see how modern technology allows Museum scientists to study them in the free exhibition, Animal Mummies: What's Inside.

The train from London Euston takes around 45 minutes and entry to the Museum is free. 

17. #SquidGoals

Meet Archie the 8.62-metre-long giant squid, Darwin's octopus and other specimens preserved in jars (or tanks), in a behind-the-scenes tour of our Zoology spirit building.

Various dates, £15, bookings essential

18. See the largest painting in the collection

It's hard to miss the huge painting of a long-extinct giant ground sloth (Megatherium americanum) - it's about 2.5 by 5.8 metres. It was painted in 1842 by George Scharf, one of the artists who provided scientific illustrations for our founder Richard Owen.

See it at the exhibition Palaeoart - Reconstructing the Past in the Images of Nature gallery, then get up close to the real specimen outside the entrance to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

Until 28 April, free, no ticket required

19. Dance the (long) night away

Make waves on the dance floor under Hope the whale and curate the soundtrack to your night as three DJs make you move at our silent disco.

24 April and 29 May after Lates, adults £23, Member £20.70

20. Sleepover at the Museum

If you thought sleepovers were just for kids, think again.

Join us after the Sun's gone down and let your inner child go wild for a night of fun and games at the Museum.

7 March, adults £185, Member: £166.50
Includes a drink on arrival, a three-course dinner and a hot breakfast.

21. Seek out the signs of spring

From shoots bursting through the soil, to an eruption of animal activity, the sights and sounds of the natural world 'waking up' or starting afresh surround us.

Keep an eye out for the peacock butterfly - it's one of the earliest butterflies you're likely to see in spring, as it hibernates as an adult and starts flying as soon as temperatures warm. Explore your own backyard or visit the Museum's Wildlife Garden.

Permanent, free