Sensational Butterflies

Things to do
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(14user reviews)
Girl with butterfly (Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources)
Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources
Butterfly and Cocoons (Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources)
Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources
Boy with butterfly (Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources)
Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources
Sensational Butterflies  (Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources)
Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources
 (© Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources)
© Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources
 (© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London)
© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
 (© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London)
© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
 (© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London)
© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
 (© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London)
© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
 (© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London)
© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
 (© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London)
© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
Girl with butterflies (Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources)
Kevin Webb/NHM Image Resources

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

This review ‘Sensational Butterflies’ is from 2016

The Natural History Museum's butterfly house returns to a specially constructed tropical enclosure on the Museum's east lawn. Visitors can come face-to-face with tropical butterflies, including the swallowtail, blue morpho, the moon moth and many others originating from Africa, Southeast Asia and North and South America, and take part in games, activities and challenges that teach more about the sensory world of the fluttering creatures.

Most of the creatures in the Natural History Museum have been dead for a very, very long time. But here, in this humid tent on its lawn, you can see the most beautiful birth sequence in the natural world: a butterfly wriggling out of its chrysalis, pumping up its damp wings then taking flight and landing – if you're lucky – on you, instead of a flower.

Each year, hundreds of tropical chrysalises arrive at Heathrow from all over the world, destined for the tender care of the Museum’s expert lepidopterist Luke Brown – also a skilled butterfly midwife, who watches lovingly over their metamorphoses, and steps in with a pin to help the little insects free of their leaf-shaped pods if they’re struggling. In the wild, only 10 to 15 percent of them will make this extraordinary transformation from hairy caterpillar to nectar-sipping glider: here, the success rate is more like 85 percent. 

Even if you don’t catch one in the act of emerging, this is a truly sensational environment: the damp, hot air is thick with colourful butterflies, and the sweet scents of fruit and flowers that attract them. There are so many butterflies that you have to take care not to trample them underfoot (I’d think twice before letting a toddler loose among these ultra-delicate live exhibits). But this is a wonderful chance to learn, via close-up observation, about these creatures, and to immerse yourself in every stage of their brief, gorgeous lives.

Caroline McGinn



Users say (14)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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1 of 1 found helpful

Amazing. The number and the range of butterflies were astounding. The chrysalis were awesome to watch.


Cute live butterflies house/excibition in the front yard of Natural History museum. Interesting labels with info here and there, as you walk in the inside pavement and being surrounded by vivid coloured butterlies. Reasonable entrance price for the relatively short excibition. 


A really interesting butterfly walk through exhibition. The focus here is really on the metamorphosis from chrysalis to butterfly, a truly awesome process if you are lucky enough to see it happen! 

If you want to get up close and personal with a lot of very beautiful, very large winged creatures, this is the place to do it. Although I would advise against visiting with very small children or anyone with a phobia of things flying in their personal space!


The Sensational Butterflies butterfly house was pretty special. You got to see a fantastic variety of butterflies going about their own business, some flying pretty close to you. The other half had to stay still for a good 10 minutes as one used him as a landing pad. It was fascinating to read all the facts about them, find out the plants they liked and investigate the pupae stage. The massive tent has a path that snakes round a tropical garden (handy if it’s nippy outside). There are a loads of museum staff hanging around just in case you want to know more. It’s a really cool way to spend half an hour.

Had a great time exploring it with my adult friends surrounded by very happy little kids. Was amazing to see the excitement and enthusiasm across the age range! Was an amazing activity for the day, and I plan to going back with my two little nephews hoping they'll be as excited as I was!


I loved this.

I visited at the weekend with my two year old twins, and although they were a little scared at times (just because they're two), they enjoyed watching the colourful beautiful creatures surround us!

We preordered our tickets (£5.85/£6.50 if you want to want to make an additional donation) and simply gave our reference number at the door.  Simple and organised - great when you're dealing with toddlers and have spent the morning travelling on tubes.

A fantastic experience - highly recommend.

Bit disappointing to be honest, especially comparing to the butterfly tent in London Zoo. Not so many different kinds of butterflies as in the zoo and lots of dead ones in the tent's corners.


Popped in here when trying to kill some time. £6.50 for an adult which is not too bad but if you are hoping for a 'mass' of butterflies (a la Snow White) you may be disappointed. The room is warm and humid (they tell you this before you enter) and does have a decent amount of butterflies fluttering about the place for goof photo opps. 

It was fun to follow the trail and learn about the different steps of butterflies, I really enjoyed see them in their cocoon phase and the ones 'airing out' on the branches. 

Not a bad shout-- great way to spend 30-45 minutes. 

I have been to other butterfly exhibits and really enjoyed them.The butterflies at this exhibit have been bought by the NHM from butterfly farms, and I am sad to say are not well cared for.Many of the butterflies had obvious damage to their wings.When I mentioned it to one of the staff he seemed to find the whole thing funny….


The novelty of nature’s tiny symmetrical works of art never seems to wear off. This beautiful exhibition on the lawn outside the museum has been running all summer and its popularity shows no signs of abating. There’s science for those who want it, with thoughtful displays and interpretation for junior lepidopterists. The real appeal, though, is seeing these amazing creatures. They seem to have an uncanny sense of when they’re about to have their photo taken, so the only way to see them in their full glory is in the flesh.

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Excellent exhibit if you don't get I see butterflies very often! If there is a long line to get into the museum, go to this exhibit first, then you can fast track your way into the museum afterwards.

Really nice exhibition! It's not very big but you can see a lot of butterflies and you will be surprised how many of them will land on you and stay there for a while. It's outside of the National History Museum and during school holidays, where everyone was queuing for the museum, you didn't wait for the butterflies. I recommend to bring a good camera as you can take perfect pictures!

The exhibition itself is lovely but there is an extremely rude man working inside where the pupae are who shouted at children there and frankly, should be sacked. That is no way to behave.