New this month
After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions
Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and Darwin’s great-great-granddaughter, poet Ruth Padel, are two of four artists and writers who have created new works for the Natural History Museum’s summer arts exhibition After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions.
The artists used Darwin’s book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, in which Darwin examines the continuity of emotional states of animals and humans, as a starting point to explore the ideas Darwin presented. The resulting works investigate today’s cultural perspectives on human-animal kinship and the study of emotional expressions.
The exhibition will feature new film and installation commissions from Jeremy Deller / Matthew Killip in collaboration with Professor Richard Wiseman and Diana Thater, alongside existing video work by Bill Viola. New literature commissioned from award-winning author Mark Haddon and Ruth Padel will also form part of the exhibition.
The Expression of the Emotions was one of the earliest publications to make use of photography for illustration and scientific evidence, and was hugely popular in its day. With reference to observations of animals in London Zoo, his own children and research into facial muscles by French physiologist Duchenne de Boulogne, Darwin examined emotions on the basis of evolution. It was these thoughts that sparked more widespread research into human and animal emotions.
To 29 November 2009
Take a magical jungle journey this summer, as the Natural History Museum comes alive with the brand new Butterfly Jungle. Travel from the dark depths of the forest floor to the heady heights of the tree canopy and experience the magic and beauty of live butterflies and other rainforest creatures.
Your journey begins with an outdoor explorer’s trail. As you climb, crawl, swing and jump your way through the different layers of the rainforest, you’ll discover the amazing characters that live here and find out how they are adapted to survive in their jungle home. Tackle their survival challenges yourself through a mix of fun, physical activities and brain-teasing puzzles. You’ll need to follow the animal tracks, spot the camouflaged insects and swing like a monkey. This place is full of life. In fact, it’s the most diverse place on Earth. Rainforests are home to butterflies, beetles, frogs, snakes, toucans, monkeys and more. In this fascinating exhibition, you’ll find out how they all avoid getting eaten, find food and build a home, and discover why it is so important to protect this rich and beautiful habitat.
Your jungle trail will lead you to the incredible butterfly house where you can feel the life and diversity of the jungle all around you. As you walk inside this living rainforest, you’ll come face-to-face with a huge variety of tropical butterflies from all over the world.
To 27 September 2009
A new permanent artwork by artist Tania Kovats, inspired by Charles Darwin to celebrate his two hundredth birthday. TREE is a cross-section of an entire 200-year-old oak tree, cut lengthways, including the roots, trunk and branches and inserted into the ceiling of a gallery behind Central Hall. At more than 17 metres long, it is one of the largest specimens at the Museum. TREE is inspired by Charles Darwin’s iconic tree of life sketch, representing evolution, from his transmutation notebook B.
In 2008, 10 leading contemporary artists were invited to submit responses to celebrate Darwin’s two hundredth birthday and 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. The resulting exhibition of proposals, Darwin’s Canopy, was the first event in the Darwin200 programme, a nationwide series of events celebrating Darwin’s ideas and their impact around his two hundredth birthday. TREE was selected for commission from the 10 proposals and is also part of the Darwin200 celebrations.
The Wildlife Garden
Escape the city and wander through the tranquil habitats of the Wildlife Garden. Set in the Museum’s grounds, the garden reveals a range of British lowland habitats, including woodland, meadow and pond, and demonstrates the potential for wildlife conservation in the inner city.
Daily to end of October
10.00–17.00 (weather permitting)
Hands-On Nature: Wildlife Garden
Visit the handling trolley in Lasting Impressions or the Wildlife Garden and take a closer look at some interesting specimens with the help of science educators.
Every Saturday and Sunday, 14.00–17.00 (times may vary, please check at an information desk)
Yellow Book Day
Enjoy a day in the Wildlife Garden. Browse stalls selling wild flowers and refreshments, learn about some of our resident plants and insects and the rich array of plants and animals in the garden ponds.
5 July, 14.00–17.00
Hands-On Nature: Climate Change
Visit the handling trolley in Lasting Impressions or the Wildlife Garden and take a closer look at some interesting specimens with the help of our science educators.
Every Saturday and Sunday plus 20, 23, 26, 27 and 30 July
14.00–17.00 (times may vary, please check at an information desk)
Crafty Nature: Amazing Butterflies
Roll up your sleeves and join artists for exciting craft workshops. Use interesting materials to make fun creations based on natural history themes. This workshop takes place in Fossil Marine Reptiles and is suitable for children under seven.
4 and 18 July, 11.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.00
Meet our gallery characters in Central Hall and hear about science from an historical perspective.
Carl Linneaus, 5, 22 and 24 July, 11.30–13.00 and 14.00–15.30
Charles Darwin, 11 and 26 July, 11.30–13.00 and 14.00–15.30
Annie Darwin, 19 and 25 July, 11.30–13.00 and 14.00–15.30
Natural Puppet Tales
Join our storyteller and her puppets in lively storytelling workshops based on discovering amazing facts about the natural world. The workshop is best suited to families with children aged seven and under.
26 July, 12.00 and 13.30
Free, to reserve a place please visit the Central Hall information desk
Discover the creatures living in the Wildlife Garden pond with the help of enthusiastic Science Educators. Places are limited, so please book at the Central Hall information desk on arrival.
21, 25 and 28 July, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00 and 16.00
Be a Botanist
Book your place and discover what it’s like to be a botanist through our hands-on workshop, creating your own botanical work.
17, 22, 24, 29 and 31 July, 14.00, 15.00 and 16.00
Free, places are limited so please book at the Central Hall information desk when you arrive
Nature Live event: All Squid Great and Small
Within our collections is a squid of truly gigantic proportions that is usually found in the depths of the oceans. Known fondly as Archie, it is an animal of wonder and mystery. Discover more about this famous specimen and take a closer look at some other types of squid that are found closer to home. Could such a monster ever wash up on British shores? Join us to find out.
4 July, 12.30 and 14.30
Nature Live event: Terrific Pterosaurs
Pterosaurs may have lived at the same time as the dinosaurs, but they weren’t dinos. These flying reptiles came in many forms, from as tiny as a sparrow to the size of a small plane. The Museum’s diverse international collection of pterosaur fossils includes a large North American toothless pteranodon that had a wingspan of eight metres. Come and see the first vertebrates capable of powered flight and meet the scientist who looks after them.
5 July, 12.30 and 14.30
Nature Live event: Edible Insects
We may squirm at the prospect, but in many parts of the world insects are a regular part of the diet. Museum entomologist Stuart Hine uses real insect specimens to give us the low down on the taste and nutrition of a varied bushtucker diet, from roasted slugs to crunchy crickets. And don’t miss the chance to try and unusual snack. Warning: it might put you off your lunch…
12 July, 12.30 and 14.30
Nature Live event: The Big Bang: Krakatoa
The loudest sound ever recorded was during the 1883 cataclysmic eruption of a volcano on the small island of Krakatoa in Indonesia. This eruption also generated tsunami waves over 30 metres high and shock waves that reverberated around the globe seven times, propelled ash up to 50 kilometres into the air and forced some survivors to escape by surfing crocodiles. Could such a massive eruption happen again? Join us as we discover the far reaching effects of the eruption of Krakatoa and how it marked the beginning of modern day volcanology and research. We’ll be erupting our own model volcano in the studio and will have real pieces of volcanic rock for you to handle and take a closer look at.
18 July, 12.30 and 14.30
Nature Live event: How to Go Batty
When is the best time to go bat watching? How can you help out with bat conservation? Learn about the wonderful bat species living close to you and what they get up to while we’re sleep. This weekend is your chance to get involved with bat counting, bat box-making and other fun, batty activities.
25 July, 12.30 and 14.30
Nature Live event: Bats – the Real Stars of the Night
Have you ever seen a bat fly overhead and wondered where it lives, what it eats or what it looks like up close? There are 17 species of bat in the UK, all of them unique and amazing in their own way. Hear about this vulnerable group of mammals and how you can help protect them, plus find out the best places to see bats where you live.
26 July, 12.30 and 14.30
For more information:
Visit our Attractions page on the Natural History Museum
Dinosaurs, volcanoes, precious gems and creepy crawlies – as a visitor to the Natural History Museum you will be amazed by the diversity of the natural world. The Museum is not only home to the nation’s finest collection of natural history specimens, but is also one of the UK’s top attractions, with nearly four million visitors each year. Our collection is made up of 70 million plants, animals, fossils, rocks and minerals – many of which are displayed in fascinating exhibitions.
- The Vault, a dazzling collection of the finest gems, crystals and metals from around the world, including the Aurora Pyramid of Hope, a collection of 296 naturally coloured diamonds
- Exploring the Dinosaurs gallery
- Travelling through a giant, suspended globe
- Becoming a scientist in Investigate Centre, our hands-on education space where you can examine hundreds of real natural history specimens
Every day, 10.00–17.50 (last admission 17.30)