December events @ Natural History Museum

December events

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.

  • Every day at 14.30 and weekends at 12.30 and 14.30

The Sea Lilies of Jurassic Park
Sea lilies or crinoids are beautifully coloured animals related to starfish and sea urchins. See some of the weird and beautiful sea lily fossils from the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and find out how they lived and why they died. Discover where you can find living and fossilised sea lilies, too.

  • 2 December at 14.30
  • free

Corpses to Collections
From tiny shrews to the Thames whale, the mammal collection looked after by the Museum is one of the best in the world. Specimens come to us in a number of ways, from road kill to strandings, with some literally appearing on our doorstep. But how does a corpse become a scientific specimen? Join a Museum scientist to explore the grisly process of preparing dead animals great and small for our collections. Be warned, though, it’s not for the faint hearted.

  • 5 December at 12.30 and 14.30
  • Free

Meteorites: The Change Makers
Meteorite impacts drove the most rapid changes in Earth’s surface and in all its habitants, from fishes to trees. Throughout Earth’s long history, regular impacts have helped to create the world we know today. Join a Museum meteorite researcher to explore how and when meteorites have shaped Earth’s surface and handle meteorites found by our scientists.

  • 6 December at 12.30 and 14.30
  • Free

Fighting Diseases in Uganda
Our scientists work all over the world on projects to improve human health. One of the most recent has been tackling schistosomiasis and malaria in children aged under five in East Africa. Join us as we speak to one of the scientists working to improve our understanding of these deadly diseases and what can be done to control them. We will also have a phone link to Uganda to get the latest on how the project is progressing with Ministry of Health collaborators.

  • 8 December at 14.30
  • Free

Dino Scientists
What’s all the fuss about dinosaurs? What were these animals really like? Dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years, yet we can find out a lot about them by searching for the evidence they left behind. Get the inside word on fossils, how they form and how palaeontologists find and look after dinosaur bones. See some real dinosaur fossils as well as the equipment used to dig them up and prepare them for display at the Museum.

  • 12 December at 12.30 and 14.30
  • Free

Eaten Alive
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. When the wasp larvae hatch, they feed on the insides of the host insect. Food doesn’t get much fresher than that…

  • 13 December at 12.30 and 14.30

Predicting the next super eruption
Super volcanoes don’t erupt that often but when they do they have the power to cause mass devastation. When Toba in Indonesia erupted 75,000 years ago there is evidence that it affected global temperatures and cause a ‘volcanic winter’. Join us as we discover how scientists are truing to find out when the next super eruption will occur… because it’s only a matter of time.

  • 15 December at 14.30

The Virus Hunters
Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading many, often deadly, diseases. In the last few years, new tools for studying emerging diseases have been used to discover new viruses. Join us as we meet a Museum scientist who works in the hot zone, collecting mosquitoes and looking for these new, potentially dangerous, viruses.

  • 19 December at 12.30 and 14.30

Ancient Reptiles of the Sea
Ancient reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs lived many millions of years ago and have only left fossils behind. How do Museum scientists use fossils to find out what these animals were really like? Meet palaeontologists who work on the ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs we care for and see some fossils from the collections including a giant tooth, flippers and poo.

  • 20 December at 12.30 and 14.30

Crafty Nature: Exciting Evolution
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 December, 11.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.00

Natural Puppet Tales: Rudolph and friends
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.

  • 6 and 30 December, 12.00 and 13.30
  • free, to reserve a place please visit the Central Hall


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.


  • 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 and find out more about scientific techniques used in labs at Science Focus activity points near the viewing decks.
  • 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.
  • Architecture – explore this architecturally stunning building with breathtaking views from the eight-storey cocoon over the west London skyline, into the Wildlife Garden and up close to the Museum’s original terracotta façade.

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 skating below.

  • Now to 17 January 2010
  • Monday to Sunday, 10.00–22.00.
  • Late night and early morning sessions to be announced on
  • Admission: £13/£11.50 adult, £10.50 concession, £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.


  • 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

Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year
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 or choose from a selection of prints to have in their own home.

  • To 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 andthree children); free for Members, Patrons and children aged three and under

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 Kids review on the Natural History Museum