An interlude in the write up of our American travels…
The smallest person in the house has been somewhat obsessed with dinosaurs these past few months. In the run-up to his birthday, he has frequently requested the impossible – a pet dinosaur. So, I thought it might be an idea to visit the Natural History Museum, to see a few bones and maybe get the point across.
As he has friends with birthdays either side of his, this was to be his birthday treat in lieu of a bash this year. As the day would also include various train journeys both above and below ground, as well as dinosaurs he probably would have opted for this over a party anyway had he been given a choice!
England has well and truly lived up to the stereotype recently when it comes to the weather, and given the thought of clouds gathering and getting worse throughout the day (as well as crowds gathering and getting worse throughout the day), we woke the birthday boy (and his less than happy older siblings) and turfed them of bed super early so we could be there as soon as the doors opened.
A little tip, if you get out of the tube at Cromwell Road, as you get to the top of the steps, turn left instead of right (as right is where the coaches drop the tourists off) and the queue is much much shorter. Do look at the gargoyles on the outside of the building whilst you wait, they are all animals (and the walls of the inside are covered in animals too if you look closely enough!)…
It’s been many many years since my last visit here given our leave of absence. I think I took the 14-year-old just before we left to live in Copenhagen some ten odd years ago now, and the main difference as far as I could tell is that the main London Museums are now free, but because of that, it all seems far far busier. Of course, the free part isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it means that these places are more accessible to everyone (there is a suggested £5 donation)…
One truly happy surprise for me whilst waiting to get in was the realisation that the Musem of the Moon is currently in residence, and as we were there when many others weren’t, it was nothing short of spectacular to see and kind of have it all to ourselves.
Of course, next stop was (what we named) Dinosaur central, a wing of the museum dedicated to the bones of these huge beasts. It’s definitely a lot darker than I remember (I am sure the appalling weather didn’t help with the light situation), but it’s incredibly atmospheric with all the shadows, and a great way to show off these incredible skeletons.
Thankfully there are now clear signs to the giant robot TRex just in case you aren’t feeling overly brave, but as our youngest is generally tank like in all aspects, we thought he wouldn’t mind. It turned out he did. I had forgotten quite how ferocious this model is, but at least that solved the problem of him ever wanting a real Pet Dinosaur…
He wasn’t traumatised enough to walk through the dinosaur wing again, however, before paying a visit to Volcano and Earthquake Land (as he named it). If you are being dragged through the museum by an over-enthusiastic small child, and you don’t have time to read many signs, be aware that there is a section that replicates the Kobe earthquake complete with juddering floor and shaking shelves, or you could be in for a shock …
Next up it was a much calmer, more relaxing visit to the whale room, apart from a slight disagreement over the real name for the “Unicorn Whale” a certain small person spotted above.
Never argue with a four-year-old about this, you won’t win) before a walk around “fish land”, an inspection of the Woolly Mammoth skeleton in the main hall (did you know that woolly mammoth bones were found close to the National Gallery in 1847? I like to think this is him!), next to Hope the Blue Whale Skeleton who hangs high above everyone else (replacing Dippy the diplodocus who is currently on tour!), before the all-important visit to the gift shop. By now The Natural History Museum was incredibly busy (it was the weekend after all!) but we had seen what a certain person had wanted to this visit, and I am sure we will be back in the very near future.
Thank you National History Museum, it was so lovely to see you again, and an even bigger thank you for solving the dinosaur pet problem. If I could just have that big moon though?
A note to the birthday boy, as is usual for me (although the Eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted I didn’t actually publish the 12-year old’s birthday this year, I am not sure what happened there but as it’s in drafts, I will have to go back and post it retrospectively…).
Happy Birthday my love. Four! Where have the years gone? It hardly seems like a minute ago since we were holed up in Erding Hospital after your somewhat “interesting” arrival, wondering if that was what it felt like to be institutionalised, whilst at the same time wondering when the aben essen cart might arrive with the evening brot and kase selection (and an erdinger alkoholfrei for milk production – naturalig)…
You came into the world larger than life, and you definitely continue to live up to that. It might be a third child thing but you are the loudest of my brood by far, and hilarious to boot (I know when your brother and sister refer to you as “that child” that you have been up to something!). You are a natural explorer, and never let others stop you from doing something you have your heart set on (which is obviously not always good!). Luckily your preschool is well equipped to deal with your “must be outside at all times” character with Forest School. I will try to forget about your start in an English school in a year’s time for the time being (I would love him to have a more relaxed start as his older siblings did, who knows it might be time we moved abroad again!)… Love you sweetheart. x
Wow, what an amazing place to visit…especially when you are 4! My kiddos would love it here too. (PS I agree, never argue with a 4 year old, just nod and carry on about your day! Ha ha!!)
Yep, a lesson I need to learn – smile and nod! :D
Angela Vincent says
A lovely post. Its such a great place to visit isn’t it. I love the Natural history museum despite its unrelenting busyness! The dinosaurs are great and always entreating for children of all ages. Love your pictures and the sweet letter to your son at the end of the post too #farawayfiles
It does get busy, but visiting it out of the peak hours makes a really big difference! Thanks so much! :)
Bryna - Dotted Line Travels says
What a great way to celebrate your little one’s birthday. Such grand displays of dinosaurs – and that moon – wow! I would have loved it here too!
Thanks so much Bryna! :)
Sol Solntze says
I was in and out of the Kensington Museums one every week for a while (because reasons) and I do rater miss the Natural History Museum and its dinosaurs. Lovely pictures to remind me! And your son’s reaction to the T-rex was exactly the same as mine’s. It really is quite ferocious. Glad he enjoyed the rest of his birthday treat though! #farawayfiles
I am so surprised he was that scared, he’s normally not scared of anything!! :D Thanks Sol! :)
I haven’t been to the Natural History Museum in years (more like decades), it is an incredible place, I’m really tempted to return #farawayfiles
You must if you get the chance! Thank you! :)
Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) says
Love your tips about getting in before the crowds, Emma! What a special birthday treat for a four-year-old. It’s always such a good idea to stick with one particular area with little children in a big museum. I remember our two being scared of that robot T-Rex too! You’ve reminded me that I’d like to revisit the Natural History Museum soon – it’s been too long, and you never grow out of dinosaurs. Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles
Thanks so much Clare! I have loved revisiting these places after such a long time away! :)
Helen of Fuss Free Flavours says
The Natural History Museum is such a good place to visit, and you really need a full day to appreciate it all. Ideal for children who do love dinosaurs. And a good tip about where to queue.
Thanks so much Helen! :)
Jenna Parrington says
This is such an iconic place to visit, one I hope I can take my kids in the near future. It’s incredible!
I love finding all the little details like the tiles there, and the animal gargoyles outside that you might otherwise miss! Thank you! :)
Oh wow, what an extraordinary place to visit! My kids would LOVE to go here one day! So many things to see and learn!
There really is so much, I am not sure one visit is enough!
Stephanie Merry says
I used to love visiting the Natural History Museum as a child, even know, it’s still one of my favourite museums in London. Especially as it’s free! x
I still can’t quite believe it’s free! Thanks Stephanie! :) x
Oh how exciting! We’ve actually got a dinosaur called Dippy on exhibition in the National Museum in Cardiff at the moment. I’m hoping to go and see it at some point.
Dippy lives in the main hall of the National History museum usually, Hope the whale is there whilst he is on his travels! :) x
Sarah | Boo Roo and Tigger Too says
We managed to squeeze in a trip to the Natural History Museum recently, and the children loved it. So much to see and explore, a great family day out
It really is a good day out isn’t it? Thanks Sarah! :)
Kara Guppy says
We love visiting the NHM and there is always things that change so it is different everytime. Some exhibits do need an update though
It’s fabulous isn’t it? I know what you mean, but I can’t help thinking that it’s because they must have lost so much money thanks to the free admission thing…
Despite living not too far away, I have actually never visited the Natural History Museum. The queue always seems endless! How long did you wait until you made it in?
Go first thing, and go to the side entrance instead of the main entrance. We were in within minutes! :)