Sunday, July 19, 2015

London Natural History Museum

I brought the kids to see the dinosaurs, but I took photos of the building. 

I know, the Elephant Orphanage was supposed to be next, but connection problems and a new laptop are messing with my schedule.

This is the post that was supposed to publish before we went on Safari, but it didn't. Since I can't easily get at the photos from the elephant orphanage, that will have to wait and this is what's up next.

Adding to complications, but in a nice way, Adrienne's husband Brandon and my older daughter Danielle have joined us. So we are now a group of six moving around every few days.

Way different kind of travel. Way, way different. But still very nice. We are going to a castle hotel in a couple of days, so there will be fun new stuff soon. In the meantime, the kids do love a natural history museum. And the one in London is excellent.

Though that may not be obvious from this post, because I was so captivated by the building.

I do have a few photos of the kids in front of various exhibits, and one or two...maybe...of exhibits alone. But, sorry (not sorry), it was the building that fascinated me most.

I thought, because of all the fabulous detail, that this was some former gorgeous royal palace or government building that had been repurposed to be a museum, like the Louvre. But no, it was built specifically to house government owned natural history exhibits. 

I'm pretty sure they displayed the exhibits differently back then, and I'm also sure I would have liked it better. Because those beautiful walls are now covered up with various large information bearing displays made of various materials. I doubt so much trouble would have been taken to make the walls as amazing as they are, had the original builders known so much of them would be covered up.

I am seriously in love with this building. I'm pretty sure I warned everyone there would be lots of building photos on this blog, so no one should be surprised. Still, for those interested in the actual contents, I'll show you what I've got. 

We didn't see nearly all of it, even though we spent hours there, this place is just enormous. But this is a major reason I love that so many of London's museums are free. I don't mind paying to support a museum. In fact, we made a donation to this one. But when a place is so huge that it really needs multiple visits, free or affordable multi-entry admission is very much appreciated.

We started off, once again, by eating in the gardens in front of the museum. This practice is getting to be a favorite of ours. If  we eat right before we walk in the doors, then we can go for several hours at a time without hunger taking the edge off our enjoyment.

The day was not quite as nice as where we ate by Tower of London, nor were the gardens. But there were tables and chairs, as well as park benches, so we had no complaints.

Once inside, like most people, we headed to the dinosaurs. They were conveniently located just inside to the left of the front door. However, there is a catwalk like walkway for people to follow, and there was a pretty long line. So it took a while just to get to the dinosaur exhibis.

Fortunately, the line began, and curled around, a giant dinosaur in the huge entry of the museum. So there was a lot to look at as we made our way along.

Again, I have not figured out the trick for photographing stained glass with the sun behind it. Adrienne has a digital camera with a changeable lens and, though it is not expensive gear, stained glass presents no problem. So I'm thinking of getting a tiny actual camera, to see if it can compensate for my lack of skill even more than my iphone's admittedly excellent camera already does. I really don't want to spend any time learning photography, but I'd love to be able to capture more of what I'm seeing and being amazed by.

Back to the museum.

We went through the dinosaurs, most of them being made with casts rather than actual fossils. Maybe that was why it was so very dimly lit, so they wouldn't look too fake. I really don't know, but they looked fine, the kids were happy enough to see them.

The section ended with an animatronic dinosaur that wasn't the most amazing thing I'd seen, but I suppose it serrved the purpose of showing what it must have been like while they roamed the earth.

There is an outdoor area with a path to follow, showing various plants and trees. It provided a great break, to get out for some fresh air and let the kids run around. All large museums should have such a place. I, of course, used the opportunity to get more photos of this magnificent building.

We finished up in the very modern hands on lab downstairs. Now this is an excellent type of thing to have in a natural history museum.There were microscopes, computers and endless drawers filled with exhibits. You were instructed to just take a drawer, bring it to a work area and do whatever you please. You didn't even have to return it to the same slot, any slot would do. 

Both of the kids got very much into it, seriously concentrating on the computers. Peri was most interested in the rocks, Donovan in the insects. We stayed there until they closed down the room, then hit the museum shop before the whole place shut down.

You know, so many people tend to think that museums are boring places that it wouldn't seem like kids would get such a kick out of them. But they have been huge successes on our trip, and there are more to come. We do mix them up with other outings, though, there is no shortage of things to do in and around London. Coming up soon, Paddington Bear and Platform 9 3/4. Or elephants. Or something else. Somewhere.

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