November events @ Natural History Museum

New this month

Ice Rink

  • Whether you’re an expert or a novice, a glider or a slider, skating in the open air is a magical and exhilarating experience. As the winter evenings draw in, the Natural History Museum’s east lawn will be transformed once again into a magical setting with 76,000 Christmas lights in the nearby trees, surrounding the Ice Rink for the fifth year.
  • Overlooking the Rink is a café bar providing visitors with the best view of the rink.
  • 5 November 2009 until 17 January 2010
  • Monday to Sunday, 10.00–22.00. Late night and early morning sessions to be announced on
  • Ticket booking:    0844 847 1576
  • Admission:    £13/£11.50 adults, £10.50 concessions, £8.50/£8.00 children 12 years and under, £34.50/£31.00 family (up to four, minimum one adult) prices apply to peak/off peak where two are shown. There are no concessions during peak times.

Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009

  • See the environment around you with new eyes and be inspired by the latest winning entries in the world’s most prestigious showcase of wildlife photography.
  • Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year is owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine. It is the international leader in the artistic representation of the natural world. The exhibition showcases the very best photographic images of nature, giving visitors an insight into the beauty, drama and variety of our natural environment.
  • The winning images are displayed in a stunning exhibition launched at the Natural History Museum that then tours the UK and overseas. Through an interactive installation, visitors to the exhibition can find out what the judges, scientists and photographers think about particular images. In addition, visitors can select their favourite image and choose from a selection of prints to have in their own home.
  • 23 October 2009 – 11 April 2010, 10.00–17.50
  • Admission:  adult, Gift Aid admission £9*, concession, Gift Aid admission £4.50*, family, Gift Aid admission £24* (up to two adults and three children)
  • Free for Members, Patrons and children aged three and under


Darwin Centre

Journey deep into the heart of the eight-storey cocoon to glimpse the working life of our scientists in collections and laboratories, quiz scientists about their cutting-edge research or view specially created natural history footage – all opening up the hidden world of the Natural History Museum’s scientific collections and research.

The new £78 million Darwin Centre is a state-of-the-art scientific research and collections facility that can be used by over 200 scientists at a time. It is also an awe-inspiring new public space inviting you 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 safeguards the 17 million insect and three million plant specimens held inside the building.

You can experience:

  • Cocoon – travel through the Cocoon experience deep into the heart of the collections to glimpse the working life of our scientists. See the previously hidden world of scientific research through viewing decks, video, intercom and over 40 high-tech installations and hands-on interactive activities. Visitors will be able to interact with learning activators stationed throughout Cocoon.
  • NaturePlus – take a NaturePlus card with you to personalise your journey around Cocoon. Use it to collect your favourite exhibits and specimens – from butterflies to a rhino beetle – and then discover more online at home, where you can also join in discussions with Museum scientists.
  • Attenborough Studio – the Attenborough Studio is a state-of-the-art communication centre where innovative technology, Museum specimens, live animals, spectacular natural history film footage and Museum scientists come together to create an inspiring programme of free daily films and live events
  • Climate Change Wall – interact with the unmissable 12 metre wall of screens displaying films and interactive graphics that spotlight Earth’s changing climate and how the Museum’s research informs global efforts to understand that change.
  • Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity – a new resource centre for people or organisations with an interest in UK natural history. Much of the Museum’s UK collections are available here for amateur naturalists to study and visitors are encouraged to bring in their own finds and meet the Centre’s dedicated enquiries staff.

Entrance to the Darwin Centre at the Natural History Museum is free (to book timed tickets for Cocoon call 020 7942 5725 or visit

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


  • 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

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 this month

Hunting for Meteorites Around the World

  • Thousands of meteorites fall to Earth each year. They can tell us important information about the birth of our solar system, but before we can study them, we have to find them. Unfortunately, some of the best places to look for meteorites also happen to be some of the most inhospitable, as our Museum researchers have discovered on their hunting trips. Join us as we find out what it’s like to go on the hunt for meteorites, learn how they are identified in the field and get to touch real meteorites yourself.
  • 1 November at 12.30 and 14.30

Ancient Reptiles of the Sea

  • Ancient reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs lived millions of years ago and have only left fossils behind. How do Museum staff study and look after these fossils, some of which are many metres long? How do they use fossils to find out what these animals were really like? Meet Museum palaeontologists who work on ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs and see some fossils from the collections, including a giant tooth, flippers and poo.
  • 4 November at 14.30

The Plants That Bite Back

  • Don’t be fooled by their calm exterior, plants have a dark side… Join us as we look at the different ways carnivorous plants catch their food and discover the ones that you can see growing wild in Britain.
  • You can even have a go at feeding one yourself.
  • 7 November at 12.30 and 14.30

The Great Pretenders

  • The nearly 3,000 living species of stick and leaf insect are masters of disguise. Phasmids, as they are known, avoid hungry predators by mimicking leaves and twigs in colour and shape. Incredibly, some phasmids can grow back a lost leg and females can even clone themselves when no males are around. Find out how phasmids make great pets, see some specimens from our collections and meet a live one for yourself.
  • 8 November at 12.30 and 14.30

How Much Oil is Left?

  • Often branded as a dirty fuel, oil accounts for much of the energy we use as a nation, but for how long can this go on? In 2005, a major oil company revised their reserves by an astonishing 20 percent – how so? How scientists try to predict oil reserves and why any estimates are uncertain will be the topic for discussion in this thought-provoking experience.
  • 10 November at 14.30

Parasites in Whales and Dolphins

  • For the past decade, the Museum has been carrying out the largest ever survey of the parasitic worms found in stranded whales and dolphins. Join us as we explore some of the results, and get an insights into the difficulties of collecting fresh material.
  • 11 November at 14.30

Big Changes in the Big Smoke?

  • Air pollution, rising temperatures and an ever increasing risk of flooding are just some of the things Londoners are worrying about. But how bad is the situation and is there a trend showing that it is becoming worse? The answers may lie with an unlikely plant: the humble lichen. Join us to discover why lichens are excellent indictors of air quality and climate change and see specimens from our collection that date back to the eighteenth century.
  • 12 November at 14.30

Megatherium: A Big Animal From America

  • Way back in the nineteenth century, a group of big fossil animals – the extinct giant sloths of North and South America – captured popular imagination. The remarkable discovery of a well-preserved giant sloth skin in a cave in southern Chile even led some people to believe these animals might still be found alive in remote regions of Patagonia. Join Museum palaeontologist Andy Currant as he shows off some of our treasures from the pioneering days of fossil sloth hunting.
  • 14 November at 12.30 and 14.30

Eaten Alive – One Man’s Tale

  • What lengths do wasp parents go to in order to feed their young? In the case of thousands of species of parasitic wasp, they lay their eggs inside the body of another living insect. And yet this seemingly gruesome way of life can be used as a powerful tool in the fight against invasive crop pests. Join us to find out more.
  • 16 November at 14.30

Fabulous Fish Ear Stones

  • Fish ear stones are small mineral deposits found in the inner ear of bony fishes. Like tree rings and fish scales, they show annual growth rings and are important in the study of modern fish populations.
  • In addition, each species has distinctive-shaped ear stones, enabling them to be identified from these alone. There are now a great many fossil fish species that are only known by their ear stones. Join palaeontologist Adrian Rundle to share some of the joys and knowledge gained by their study.
  • 21 November at 12.30 and 14.30

All the Tea in the World

  • Tea began as a medicine and is now one of the most popular and widely consumed drinks in the world. Tea drinking is not only an indispensable part of daily life, but consequently has influenced many cultural aspects and social customs. Its history through the ages is riddled with trade wars, industrial espionage and legalised drug running. Join a Museum botanist to look at the culture and history of tea, as well as the great diversity of different teas.
  • 22 November at 12.30 and 14.30

Darwin and our Oceans

  • Charles Darwin is world-famous for his revolutionary idea of natural selection but he also made a massive contribution to marine biology. During his time on the HMS Beagle he collected and studied a variety of sea life which led to important theories on coral reef formation and barnacles to name but two. Join us as we explore the influence Darwin had on our understanding of life in the oceans.
  • 23 November at 14.30

Getting the Bite on Venomous Snakes

  • Snake. The word alone is enough to send shivers down some people’s spines. Join us as we take a look at some of the Museum’s most impressive snake specimens and find out whether they really are the cold-blooded killers they are cracked up to be.
  • 27 November at 12.30

Reconstructing Lost Worlds

  • Find out how science and art can come together to recreate impressions of life from the ancient natural world. Hear from a palaeontologist with a passion for painting and see how he attempts to understand what animals like the dodo were really like.
  • 28 November at 12.30 and 14.30

Plant Mounting Workshop

  • Find out how plants in our collections are beautiful but also hold striving information to unlock the secrets of nature. Join a Museum botanist to discover more about the vast array of plant life held in the Botany Department. Follow the process from collection through to preparation and mounting, and try your hand at mounting your own specimen to take home.
  • 29 November at 12.30 and 14.30

Keys to Natural Selection: Budgies

  • Charles Darwin’s work on domestic pigeons has been well documented, but budgies could offer an even better example of selection in action. 160 years ago marked the start of the captive breeding of budgies. Today we can select everything from colour and shape to physical characteristics and even personality. Join us as we take a whistle-stop tour of the evolution of the modern budgie.
  • 30 November at 14.30

Daily family activities

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
  • Free

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