September events @ Natural History Museum

September 1, 2009toSeptember 30, 2009


New this month

Darwin Centre

  • From 15 September, Natural History Museum visitors and scientists will share the excitement of exploring, studying and preserving the world around us in the second phase of the Darwin Centre.
  • This eight-storey, £78 million landmark building project completes the Darwin Centre – the most significant development at the Museum since it was built in 1881. The first phase, housing the Museum’s 22 million zoological specimens stored in alcohol, opened in September 2002.
  • The new Darwin Centre is a state-of-the-art scientific research and collections facility that is used by over 200 scientists at a time. It is also an awe-inspiring new public space, inviting visitors to explore the natural world in an exciting and innovative way. The architectural highlight is a 65-metre-long, eight-storey high cocoon – the largest sprayed concrete curved structure in Europe. It will safeguard 17 million insect and three million plant specimens.
  • Visitors to the second phase of the Darwin Centre will experience:
    • Cocoon – Up to 2,500 people a day will travel through Cocoon to see some of the Darwin Centre’s 220 scientists in action working in high-tech laboratories, preparing thousands of real specimens or working amongst the 3.3km of cabinets that hold the millions of plants and insects. Through viewing decks, video and intercom, visitors will get an uninhibited snapshot into these once concealed spaces at the Museum.
    • Attenborough Studio – The Attenborough Studio is a state of the art communication centre where innovative technology, Museum specimens, live animals, spectacular natural film footage and Museum scientists come together to create an inspiring free programme of daily films and live events.
    • Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity – dedicated to the study of nature in the UK. This will offer new opportunities for the UK’s many wildlife groups and societies, providing access to our UK collections and a place to get first-hand information about the natural world from Museum experts.
    • inspirational architecture – a stunning, unique building. With a gigantic cocoon and breathtaking views over west London, it’s not to be missed.

Last chance to see

Butterfly Jungle (to 27 September)

  • 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.
  • Admission: Adult £6, Child £4, Concession £4

Other exhibitions

After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions (to 29 November)

  • 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.
  • Admission:
    Adult £6
    Child £3
    Concession £4
  • Jerwood Gallery
  • Everyday 10.00–17.50


  • 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.
  • Daily 10.00–17.50
  • Free

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)
  • Free

Events in September

Nature Live in the Attenborough Studio

  • Discover more about the work of some of the Museum’s 350 scientists and world class experts in a daily programme of informal, lively discussions in the Attenborough Studio. These live, interactive events allow you to quiz scientists about their work, see and touch real specimens and have your say in controversial and provocative debates using cutting-edge technologies to fully immerse yourself in the natural world.
  • The Attenborough Studio is the Darwin Centre’s hi-tech, purpose built venue where an innovative and free daily programme of films and live events bring together real Museum specimens and scientists, live animals and footage of creatures in their natural habitat for the first time.
  • Daily at 14.30 and weekends at 12.30 and 14.30

Great Whites in Great Britain?

  • It is feared, awe-inspiring, endangered and one of the deadliest predators in our oceans. We are used to hearing of attacks in the tropics, but could a great white shark be lurking in British waters? Join us as we discuss the possibility with Museum scientist Ollie Crimmen and see some spectacular specimens from our collection.
  • 17 September at 14.30 and 24 September at 12.30

The Natural History of Giant Squid

  • Since the days of Aristotle, people have been intrigued by stories of giant squid. From myths and popular literature to Hollywood blockbusters, that fascination has only grown with time. Join us as we go on a journey to unravel the history of this creature, how it came to be in our collection and discover why, despite the advances in science, it still manages to remain shrouded in mystery.
  • 16 September at 14.30 and 23 September at 14.30

Discovering Dinosaurs

  • From huge, lumbering giants, to the small, swift and toothy, Dinosaurs have captured the popular imagination. Discover why scientists want to know more about these amazing animals that lived about 200 million years ago, find out about the different species, and hear about some adventures searching for dinosaur fossils in the field.
  • 19 September at 12.30, 14.30 and 15.30

A British Beach Clean

  • Over the summer, thousands of people in the UK have walked, swum and played along the British coastline. From the good to the bad, and even the ugly, all sorts of things get washed up. Shells, strange creatures, fishing line, plastic, wood – some of these cause damage while others can actually be useful.
  • Find out about what gets washed up on Britain’s beaches, where it comes from, and how it can help or harm our wildlife.
  • 20 September at 12.30, 14.30 and 15.30

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 an unusual snack. Warning: it might put you off your lunch…
  • 22 September at 12.30
  • 26 September at 12.30 and 14.30

The Complete World of Human Evolution

  • We sometimes think we dominate Earth, so it’s easy to forget we haven’t been around that long. The earliest apes evolved many millions of years ago, yet our species, Homo sapiens, may only have existed for about 200,000 years. In the intervening period, dozens of species of early ape and human have lived and died out, leaving behind fossilized remains that have helped build up an increasingly detailed picture of our origins. Join Chris Stringer for a whistle-stop tour of human evolution.
  • 22 September at 14.30


  • From royal crowns to wedding rings and from a pirate’s plunder to a dragon’s hoard, gold has been sought after for thousands of years. But where does it come from and how do you find it? Find out about the different techniques used to search for gold, from studying rocks and looking at maps to panning in steams. It’s trickier that it looks…
  • 27 September at 12.30 and 14.30

The State of our Seas

  • The diversity of life we find beneath the waves is unparalleled, but our changing climate is having a massive impact on the marine world. Join us as we speak to Museum scientist Geoff Boxshall to find out what changes are already happening in our oceans and what we can expect for the future.
  • 29 September at 14.30

Crafty Nature: 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.
  • 5 and 19 September, 11.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.00

Natural Puppet Tales: Three Billy Goats Gruff and Jackie and the Beanstalk

  • 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.
  • 27 September, 12.00 and 13.30

Daily family activities

Explorer backpacks

  • Grab your binoculars, put on your backpack and take a mini-adventure around the Museum. Filled with pens, paper, games and activities, these bright red backpacks are a fun way to explore the Museum’s galleries. Choose from themes including birds, mammals, oceans, primates, monsters and Wildlife Garden.
  • Suitable for under sevens.
  • Daily 10.00–17.00
  • £25 refundable deposit required
  • Please collect from the Central Hall information desk

Family Earth Lab

  • For families with children aged six and above. Drop in to Earth Lab and join our science educators to explore the wonder of fossils, rocks and minerals. Sessions are set up to allow everyone to join in at their own level and there is a range of fun activities to choose from.
  • Weekends and school holidays, 11.00–13.00

Dippy floor puzzle

  • Enjoy the wonder of our 26-metre-long Diplodocus – affectionately named Dippy – with a soft toy floor puzzle.
  • It’s free and is available in the Central Hall underneath the Diplodocus dinosaur.
  • Suitable for children aged seven and under. Complete the puzzle and get a funky Dippy sticker.
  • Daily 12.00–17.00 (times may vary)


  • Grab a funky fabric-based dinosaur book and follow a trail through the Museum, finding out what dinosaurs ate, how sharp their teeth were, what dinosaur footprints are like and lots more.
  • Suitable for families with children under five.
  • Daily
  • 10.00–17.00 (times may vary)

Jurassic Ark

  • Take the Jurassic Ark trail, gathering clues and discovering the animals that lurked in the shadow of the dinosaurs.
  • This fun-filled family activity pack includes code-breaking activities, a crossword, word search, stickers, free poster, eraser and pencil. When you’ve finished, you can claim a 10 per cent discount in the Museum Shop.
  • Daily 10.00–17.00
  • £1.50, available from the Museum Shop

Focus Points

  • Don’t miss our Focus Point handling trolleys. Whatever your age, come and explore real specimens with the help of our enthusiastic volunteers, using different natural history-themed activities.
  • Tuesday–Thursday, 10.45–14.00
  • Saturday–Sunday, 11.15–15.00
  • Creepy Crawlies, The Power Within, Mammals

Learning activators

  • Look out for our friendly volunteers roving the galleries. They encourage visitors of all ages to discover more about the natural world, using Museum specimens from mammal skulls to fossils.
  • Tuesday–Thursday, 10.45–14.00
  • Saturday–Sunday, 11.15–15.00

Investigate Centre

  • Get a feel for how scientists work by having a go yourself.
  • Bring your own questions, or use some of ours in this hands-on science space. Come and explore hundreds of real nature specimens that form the evidence for your exploration of scientific ideas.
  • The Investigate Centre encourages you to look closely at real objects using the many tools provided to find out more and become a scientist for the day.
  • Weekends and school holidays, 11.00–17.00 (last entry 16.30)
  • Monday–Friday in term time, 14.30–17.00 (last entry 16.30)

For more information:
See the Fun Kiuds review on the Natural History Museum