Natural History Museum

Museums , Natural history Brompton Free
Critics' choice
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(74 user reviews)
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© Jonathan Brennan
© Tim Grist
Dinosaur skeleton at Dinosnores sleepover © Celia Topping
Sabre toothed tiger skull © Celia Topping
Kids explore the NHM © Courtesy of Trustees of Natural History Museum
Annual summer Sensational Butterflies event © Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources
Annual winter ice rink at the NHM © PETER KINDERSLEY
Children's Dinosnores sleepover at the NHM © Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources
Dinosnores adult sleepover © Celia Topping
Dinosnores adult sleepover at the NHM © Celia Topping

Both a research institution and a fabulous museum, the NHM opened in Alfred Waterhouse’s purpose-built Romanesque palazzo on the Cromwell Road in 1881. Now joined by the splendid Darwin Centre extension, the original building still looks quite magnificent. The pale blue and terracotta façade just about prepares you for the natural wonders within.

Taking up the full length of the vast entrance hall is the cast of a Diplodocus skeleton. A left turn leads into the west wing or Blue Zone, where long queues form to see animatronic dinosaurs- especially endlessly popular T rex. A display on biology features an illuminated, man-sized model of a foetus in the womb along with graphic diagrams of how it might have got there.

A right turn from the central hall leads past the ‘Creepy Crawlies’ exhibition to the Green Zone. Stars include a cross-section through a Giant Sequoia tree and an amazing array of stuffed birds, including the chance to compare the egg of a hummingbird, smaller than a little finger nail, with that of an elephant bird (now extinct), almost football-sized. Beyond is the Red Zone. ‘Earth’s Treasury’ is a mine of information on a variety of precious metals, gems and crystals; ‘From the Beginning’ is a brave attempt to give the expanse of geological time a human perspective. Outside, the delightful Wildlife Garden (Apr-Oct only) showcases a range of British lowland habitats, including a ‘Bee Tree’, a hollow tree trunk that opens to reveal a busy hive.

Many of the museum’s 22 million insect and plant specimens are housed in the new Darwin Centre, where they take up nearly 17 miles of shelving. With its eight-storey Cocoon, this is also home to the museum’s research scientists, who can be watched at work. But a great deal of this amazing institution is hidden to public view, given over to labs and specialised storage.

The latest edition to the Museum is a human evolution gallery exploring where we come from and what makes us human. Casts of the reconstructed skull, hand and foot of Homo naledi feature in the display, alongside the first adult Neanderthal cranium ever discovered. 

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Venue name: Natural History Museum
Address: Cromwell Road
Opening hours: Daily 10am-5.50pm (last admission 5.30pm)
Transport: Tube: South Kensington
Price: Free (permanent collection); admission charge applies for some temporary exhibitions
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  • Until Sunday September 11 2016
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  • Friday June 24 2016 - Friday December 30 2016
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Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:66
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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Adam G
2 of 2 found helpful

A great day out, definitely top 3 museum in London.

My personal highlights are the Blue Whale, the Diplodocus cast and the escalator in the earth hall.

There are so many exhibits here, walking through the museum feels almost like you're walking through time!

Best of all... It's Free!!! Okay, the cafes are a bit pricey, and some of the temporary exhibits have entrance fees but I would still class the museum as great value.

Can be very busy on weekends so arrive early to beat the queues.

Chesca R
2 of 2 found helpful

I can not recommend seeking out and chatting to one of the science educators at the museum highly enough. They are all passionate about science and brilliant at translating that to children and adults alike. If you get the opportunity check out the investigate centre, a hidden gem in the basement of the museum that is not normally discovered until lunchtime (as it is right next to the picnic area). It is fully of real specimens and microscopes that gives everyone a chance to have a hands on experience. Also during the summer holidays try and get onto one of the pond dipping workshops based in the wildlife garden, which itself is worth a visit as it is a mini haven in the centre of London.

For those after a spot of calm reflection head to the images of nature gallery which is a mini art gallery within the museum itself with an ever changing collection of natural history based art through the ages, 

If you want to spoil yourself head to the treasures gallery tucked away behind the Darwin statue at the top of the main staircase. In here you will find a smorgasbord of natural history delights, just make sure you pay your respects to Guy the Gorilla on your way in.

Will J
1 of 1 found helpful

When I was a kid I would visit the NHM all the time – I was completely obsessed. As far as museums for children go, you can’t get much better. Outstanding range of dinosaurs on display restructured from their bones, most notably the diplodocus that greets you as you enter, with an animatronic T rex that could be alive it’s so realistic! Is it for adults though? Absolutely. There is stacks of information on display should you wish to learn, and endless displays if all you’re after is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. The layout is excellent in addition. The only criticism I would have is that there is not enough features visitors can get involved with – for example I think there used to be a ‘realistic earthquake experience’ that is no longer there. Bringing this type of thing back makes the museum more excitable so it is more than an informative exhibition. Unquestionably still a must visit for all age groups.


Tamara B

There's so much to see and do at the Natural History Museum that on this visit because we had a child with us with a short attention span, we focused on the dinosaur gallery. The exhibit is laid out well with dinosaur skeletons peppered throughout and interactive displays. It was interesting and educational. The t-rex might be a little tired - he's intimidating and interesting for children to see but my husband remembers the same robotic t-rex from some 30 years ago so he might need a little bit of updating. Overall, it's a great exhibit and for kids who love dinosaurs, it's completely captivating. It was interesting for me also to update some dinosaur names that I didn't know that may have emerged since my own childhood.


I have been to this museum since I was a child (still remember the animatronic T Rex from the late 80s which scared me), but more recently have been to the wildlife photography exhibitions with my partner. The latest exhibition we saw was called Other Worlds. Fortunately were able to speed past the main queues to enter the exhibition. I thought the photography was beautiful and very varied (covered all the planets as well as the Sun) and some of the pictures really stood out e.g. one which showed Mars landscape with different layers-ice and without. We didn't have time to see the rest of the museum but would recommend getting tickets to the exhibitions as that also means you don't have to queue with all the tourists!


Mei M

Even if you're not that much into science, this is a place you really must visit. First suggestion: avoid the weekends as you'll end up waiting for ages and inside it will be so crammed you won't be able to enjoy your visit as you should. Second suggestion: have plenty of time to spend there. The good thing is that the museum itself is free, you will only have to pay for the temporary exhibitions. However, it is so big and there's so much to do that you'll regret not making enough time!

The first time I've seen it was on the TV when I was a child watching video music on MTV - do you remember the Chemical Brother's Hey Boy Hey Girl video? I was so excited when I could finally go to the museum. The building itself is magnificent, and there's so much to see and discover. Literally everyone will love it. Kids, adults, everyone. It's interesting, stunning and entertaining.

The escalator in the earth is a must seen :) You won't regret it.

Alana R

"Let's go check out the dinosaurs!" "I want to see the volcanic rock" although you may hear these exclamations from children at the Natural History Museum, I wouldn't be surprised if adults said them too. A wondrous place to escape during the rain or to watch sunset behind the iconic facade, with your first steps having your breath taken away by the grand staircase. From prehistoric history to modern day times, the Natural History Museum truly captures your attention, without you paying a penny. 

Vieve W

What can I say other than MY FAVOURITE ATTRACTION IN LONDON! England..? Let's say England.

Born and raised in London meant I took many a trip here (solo and with school) during my childhood and you know what? It only gets better as you get older!

My favourite section of the museum for observation is the Mammals section where the animals on show are preserved and just breathtaking. For interaction, it's the Human Biology section where you can learn all about pregnancy, human growth and test your memory on a no. of mind games. But for simple wow factor, it has to be the Stegosaurus skeleton found in the Earth Hall (red zone). As the best fossilised stego skeleton ever, it's bloody impressive!

I love the mineralogy section (in the treasury gallery) where they have some beautiful (and massive!) diamonds, rocks and precious stones. I have to give a mention to the Earthquakes section where the Japanese store earthquake simulator is both perfect decor and to be honest quite surreal. Whilst it's not a 7 on the Richter scale, it certainly gives you a lasting impression.

If visiting during the hustle and bustle of school trips and tourists isn't your thing (and you're over 18) then I WHOLEHEARTEDLY recommend visiting NHM Lates and After School Club. Food and beverages - the alcoholic kind ;) - are on offer. There are plenty of like minded individuals and the freedom to explore after hours is without a doubt one of the best evenings I could ask for. Plus there may even be talks and workshops on the night. Even if you can't manage the whole museum in one visit, go back! Again...and again! It's FREEEE!

I attended the Crime Scene Live, forensic night just last week, which at £60 was steep, but amazing nonetheless. Forensic white suit included.

As a science graduate and Science teacher, the NHM holds a special place in my heart. Having the opportunity to bring my students means I get to share my love of the museum with them. Win, win! I hope one day I will be able to contribute to this amazing institution by working here (academically.)

But for now, my next stop, the Natural History Museum Sleepover...if I could only find £180 to spare... Watch this space!

Julie R

This is my favourite place in London.  We try and pay a visit at least once a year and have several traditions that we must do each time we go.

There is so much in the museum that a day is probably not enough, but when we go, we tend to stick to our favourite galleries and then maybe one or two others if we have time.

Our favourite section is the dinosaurs, especially Dippy and the animatronic ones.  We will be gutted when Dippy goes!  We go round the main gallery then at the end, we have to watch the small sleeping dinosaur until his front foot moves (watch it and see)before we can move on.  I bore my son by trying to guess which dinosaur each one is, before looking at the sign.

We then go to the mammals gallery to look at all the stuffed mammals.  I normally try and learn a few unusual names in case they come in handy in the future (try slipping moeritherium or mouflon casually into a conversation!).  We also have a competition to find the animal with the stupidest name and so far, Kirk's Dik-Dik wins every time.

Then it's time for the earthquake gallery. We take the staircase through the centre of the world to get there.  We always visit the earthquake 'simulator', which is a mock up of a Japanese supermarket from the Kobe earthquake.  We wait for it to finish before going into the earthquake zone and stay for the whole reconstruction.  To an outside, this will probably look dated and a bit rubbish, but we would be sad if it ever disappeared.

There are many other galleries that we occasionally look at, such as the human body, ecology, birds, minerals, Darwin and a few new bits which we haven't quite got used to yet.  Best of all, it is free entry, so even if you don't have long, you can go in for a few minutes just to look at a few exhibits (as long as it's not school holidays when we've been known to queue for about 2 hours to get in!).

What Samuel Johnson says about London, applies here:  'When a man is tired of the Natural History Museum, he is tired of life'.

Tom C

Quite possibly my favourite place to spend time in, in the whole of London. Beautiful building and fascinating exhibits. Gets very busy at weekends and bank holidays, so go during the week if you can. The grounds are great for a picnic in the summer as well.

Daniel L

DINOSAURS AND ANIMALS!! what else could a boy ask for. This is seriously one of the most fun days out you can plan. With activities for all ages, you could easily spend half a day or a full day here, and learn so much about the vast world around you (I think that is one of the main objectives of this place anyway..). The location in south ken also means there is a great array of food options available, if the in-house cafe is not your thing. 

Ros A

I adore the Natural History Museum, and recently went back for a "back to school" night hosted by Time Out last Friday. The dinosaurs exhibition still blows by mind, even as an adult. I was lucky enough to do a "dinosaurs by torchlight" walk through - which was very jurassic park esque and therefore wonderful. We also got to have a wander through most of the downstairs of the museum doing various activities. After that we finished up in the main atrium for an AMAZING silent disco. Silent disco-ing with a big dinosaur in one of London's most iconic venues was damn right awesome. I'd go back again, definitely. 

Kirsty E

One of my favourite museums in London. So much to see and do for all the family. Feels a bit like you are wandering through history. You can really imagine the huge dinosaurs walking around all those years ago! Fascinating stuff and perfect for a free day out. Just make sure you eat before you go because the cafe is extortionate!

Tiago Almeida

This review is for the after-school club - adult edition:

I was really looking forward to the after-school club, and while it was great to see the museum after hours and much less crowded than usual.

It would have been great to have more signposts to the various events, or more guides to direct you and encourage you to take part, as it was quite spread out and difficult to find some things.  

The best part was the torchlit dinosaur trail and the film in the inflatable dome. 

It was fun to be in the museum after hours and with a little more thought I think it could be a even greater/better event in the future.

moderatorStaff Writer

No visit to London would be complete without a visit to the natural history museum - an incredible array of artefacts and displays, and of course the dinosaur hall. You can easily spend the whole day here exploring, a great family day out.


I absolutely adore the Natural History Museum. In my opinion this is definitely the best museum in London and one that I go back to time and time again. For one the building is just such a beautiful sight to look at, the architecture is simply incredible and lit up at night it just makes it that extra special. It’s also FREE although you will need to pay for certain exhibitions. The grand entrance hall is just so striking as soon as you enter the museum where you are immediately greeted by Dippy the Diplodocus Dinosaur, catch him before he goes on tour! I have spent many days off just exploring this wonderful treasure of London and always come away inspired, it will definitely leave quite an impression on you. It really does appeal to people of all ages and everything seems to be well laid out and displayed.I have also been to the late nights and have enjoyed these when the museum has been less crowded as would be expected during the school holidays and weekends. The winter market and ice skating rink is also great around Christmas time. I hope to plan to attend some more of their talks and special events in the future.

Victoria B

Amazing place and building! There are so many great exhibits here, from dinosaur skeletons to an earth quake simulation. Definitely one of the best museums in London,

Paula - ToT

The Natural History Museum is a beautiful building and I never tire of visiting here.  Having said that, I think they need to do more to make the Lates evenings more interesting.  There needs to be more interactive parts and follow the lead of Lates at the Science Museum in order to attract the crowds and keep them.

Tom Bruce

The Natural History Museum is up there with the finest institutions London has to offer. Infinitely fascinating, and staggeringly expansive, no one trip can ever cover what you may hope to see. There is only so much the human brain can take in a single day before it struggles to focus on new topics and process uncorrelated information - brain fuzz, is what some call that limit most humans reach after more than four hours on their feet in a place of historical learning.

There are at least twenty brain fuzzes to be had in the Natural History Museum. You would have to go a minimum of twenty times to honestly experience all there is to see and appreciate it for what it is. With the possibility of seeing a giant robotic T-Rex (which, when a child, was awesome) there is a tendency to breeze past 'less important' things - really old tree barks, for example - but how shameful it is to brush aside such wonders. "Oh look, a geologist's life work. Neat". "Oh, check it out, a set of fossilised insects spanning the almost the entire Creataceous period. Moving on!". "These panels telling of the history of carbon dating are interesting but... Giant sloth! Giant blue whale made of plastic! Gift Shop! Cafe!". 

Take your time if you can. Avoid rushing from one thing to the next. Dwell on the history of the planet, and marvel at the craftsmen who built this beautiful public space which houses all that we currently know about life on Earth. But if you're a tourist with just time enough for one trip, definitely just rush through everything and take a thousand photos and stand in the Earthquake simulator for a laugh. 

Alanna S

Such a gorgeous old museum with so much to see and do it’s a must see on the London tourist trail. But it loses a star from me because it's getting a bit tired (slightly scruffy taxidermy giraffe and a chipped blue whale) and just needs a bit of a revamp. The dinosaur exhibition is the highlight, and turning the corner to the robotic T-Rex still gets me excited 20 years after I first went. The ‘lates’ (pictured) are also great fun, getting to ask explorers, anthropologists and scientists about their discoveries and adventures first-hand. #SaveDippy 

South Carolina

As far as museums go this one is absolutely humongous! After about three hours of walking around I was beat and had barely skimmed the surface. If you have the luxury of wide open weekdays I’d go then to avoid the weekend museum scramble. There’s so much to see, everyone is guaranteed to find at least one thing they’re interested in. Personally I found the taxidermy section a bit unnerving so maybe steer clear of that if you’re of a weak disposition. Other than that mull about and enjoy all the breathtaking sights this museum has to offer.

Kritt N

I love coming to the Natural History Museum. It's a fabulous museum and a great research facility set in the heart of beautiful South Kensington.

The NHM houses thousands of exhibits on a broad range of topics from outer space to dinosaurs. Naturally, the dinosaurs is a highlight as well as the earthquake simulator. On the last Friday of every month, the museum is open till late for adults to take in the museum with a drink. 

If you have kids, it's a great place to get them inspired. If you're feeling curious, there's no better place to learn about dinosaurs, creepy crawlies, mammals and space. If you're visiting London on a budget, the Natural History Museum is free to the public. You really can't fault the Natural History Museum. Highly recommended to everyone in London.


I love the Natural History Museum. I've been here at least 3 times, twice in the day and once in the night. It has never disappointed. In addition to to wonderful dinosaur skeleton/fossils, they have tons of other amazing exhibits and a range of exciting events. I really love the fact that it opens at night once a has got a very different atmosphere and makes it really good alternative night out with friends. In addition, their weird and wonderful events never fail to excite particular, I tried the insect wine tasting. Safe to say, insects are not my thing, but I definitely had a great evening!!

Kim Fleming

We had a great family day out here and my son loved it. To be honest we did too, lots to do and parts I had forgotten - timeless place and amazing this is free. Places like this are what makes London special and amazing. We try to go every couple of years and will keep that up.

Warwick W

Love the NHM. Used to go before I had kids and now go with them. On my last visit it was May Half Term on a saturday. I should have known better really. Queued for nearly an hour and a half to get in. But it was still worth it. 

The restaurant there too is suprisingly good and a great place to unwind before you go in for round two!


Everything about this place is special, The building itself is amazing and the exhibits are fantastic. What kid isn't fascinated by Dinosaurs? My family and i go every year, sometimes twice when they have the outdoor ice rink. Still amazes me that its free and with the Science musuem right next door it its just a win win.

Staff Writer

Amazing for families, what is there not to like about the Natural History Museum. It si so inspiring, fun, educational. Spending hours there is quite easy. Definitely worth several visits to make the most of it, and especially so when you have a family. We first went when our kids were 3 and 1. Now they are 8 and 6, they love it more, as do we, every time we go. The dinosaurs are always a winner of course. Especially with the kids. The Victorian's nailed it with the creation of the museum, and even more so in such a stunning building. The Science Museum is next door, so make the most of both.


Fantastic for adults and kids alike. Everytime I go I am reminded how wonderful to have this fantastic resource for kids. Don't try and see it all - come back for several visits. 


Nicola L

I think the natural history museum is absolutely brilliant! I've taken my children several times, they are always so inspired & learn so much there, so it really encourages children of any age to learn about all sorts of things. Because we have to travel from Southampton we don't always get to see everything so we choose a few areas we definitely want to see & any extras are a bonus lol. Plus the architecture of the whole building is a piece of art in itself, my children & I are always in awe when we first catch a glimpse of it. I first brought my son when he was 5yrs old because of his love of dinosaurs, he's now 11 & still likes dino's & I think part of that is from going to the natural history museum & seeing them for what they would really be like, seeing the bones & models, the t-Rex, & more. It's surprising how much children can learn without even realising it. The museum has made learning so much fun that they don't realise how much soaks in, it's such a great place to go & the best thing about it is it's absolutely free to enter - who would miss that opportunity? So for me it's just the fare to get there. I would recommend this place to anyone adult & child alike, it's an amazing place to go.

Nicola T

I love going to the Natural History Museum, the building itself is worth seeing, beautiful architecture. The exhibits are so good, you can spend a whole day here happily!

Laura V

My favourite place in the whole of the UK. Stunning building with truly brilliant exhibits. I can highly recommend the Charles Darwin tour of the behind the scenes collections. See where they prepare the exhibits, keep flesh eating bugs and the giant squid - Archie. Fantastic.


A place where you can spend hours looking at one room let alone the whole building. Once you arrive you are already in awe of the architecture. Once you have entered you are astounded by science. There is something for everyone from rare and wonderful precious stones to the life size blue whale. There are constantly new exhibitions and the last friday of the month is museum lates! Suitable for all ages and not to be missed!


One of my favourite places to visit in London . It doesn't matter if you are alone, with family or even a class of 30 rampaging children the Natural History Museum has something for everyone. The museum is a maze, easily negotiated, of information, facts and fun. My most recent visit was to a late night opening with my husband and son. The atmosphere was amazing and although full of people it was a really enjoyable experience. Anyone interested in nature, fossils, dinosaurs, history, science etc etc should make sure they visit

Ann Grisdale

I went here as a child and remember loving it but can't recall a lot about it. Returned a couple of weekends ago with my eldest daughter. What a brilliant place it is. We are both adults and found it totally enthralling. Make sure you visit the dinosaurs and the marine mammal display with the blue whale. Jaw-dropping, fabulous Place and a totally fascinating day out.

Emma Carroll

Fantastic day for all the family. Fascinating exhibitions. Dinosaurs and animals are the best exhibits there. Children will love these. Beautiful building too. Love going here. Always extra exhibits running.


I have been here so many times as a child and love the dinosaurs and the huge whale in particular. I recently saw the Wildlife Photographer of the year exhibition and it was fantastic. I think it cost £12.50 but worth every penny.

Rachel Rudkin

The most amazingly beautiful building housing a seemingly endless collection of treasures. I have magical memories of my childhood there, and now take my children as often as I can - just a couple of rooms at a time so they don't get overloaded. My favourite moment is always when I enter the hall and see the dinosaur skeleton statue.

waseem khan

Great for the kids and adults too! We are never tired of going to the Natural History Museum and entry is free! Housed in a great building there's so much to enjoy. Staff are always polite and helpful.

kathleen weetman

My family, visitors from Scotland have been to the National History Museum on a number of visits. Unlike museums of a similar type ,it is bright, easy to navigate and has exhibits for all ages. My little grandson , three at the time of his visit ,was spellbound. The entry is free a good thing for families and O.A,P. s. There is a clear route to follow, easy access for the disabled and very helpful staff. Well done to all who work there. You make us want to return again and again.


A great to place to go back again and again. Also a great place for people who dislike the common and usual to try for a date. There's always something new you can learn there.


A great free museum. You can spend the whole day here with or without your family. When my son was younger we came here once a week and did just that. In the morning we would do the dinosaur walk, past the animatronic creatures and up on the bridge, followed by a walk throught the ammals. Then we would go for lunch, an activity, a trip to the shop (this may take a while), a walk in the garden with ice-cream and then home. A perfect day out. The food can be pricey but you can bring your own and in the summer you can sit in the grounds and eat. The gift shop can also get pricey but there are many smaller token gifts that are easy on the wallet.


A great museum for all the family with great evening events. The exhibitions are good value for money and fascinating for both kids and adults!

andrew anderson

Without a doubt one of my favourite museums which i first visited on a primary school trip back in 1970.The Darwin centre with its cocoon is spectacular as is the main building with all its animal carvings in the stonework. Well worth a visit

Jan Pearce

I took my grand children it is a wonderful place , lots of information and people to ask, they were in enthralled by the amount of displays,not once did they say they were bored.They did a diary on what they saw and are now busy writing up all about it to tell their school.

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