Natural History Museum

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Natural History Museum in London is located in South Kensington. It is one of the three large museums located here (other two are Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum). The museum is a world-renowned centre of research, specializing in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Some of the collections have great historical and scientific value, such as the specimens collected by Darwin.

Natural History Museum was at the beginning only one of the branches of the British Museum. The base of the museum was created by the collection of doctor Sir Hans Sloane. Thank Richard Owen, superintendent of the natural history departments, a new building was built. Francis Fowke, who won the competition died soon afterwards and the plans were taken over by Alfred Waterhouse. However, they were changed for budgetary reasons (two wings were supposed to be built on both sides of the main building; this space is now occupied by Earth Galleries and Darwin Centre). The work began in 1873 and was finished in 1880. Although the museum was opened in 1881, the move from old museum was finished just in 1883. The entrance to the Natural History Museum has an ornate terracotta façade that was typical of high Victorian architecture.

The fight for the independence from the British Museum started in 1866 and it was finally successfully achieved in 1963 with the British Museum Act. The name of the museum changed from British Museum (Natural History) to Natural History Museum just in 1992.

In 1986 the museum absorbed the adjacent Geological Museum. It was completely rebuilt in 1996 and renamed to The Earth Galleries. Interesting is mainly the central atrium designed by Neal Potter with the model of Earth as the entrance to the upper galleries.

Darwin Centre is also a new part of the museum. It was designed for storing the valuable collections, as well as new workspaces for the museum's scientific staff, and new educational visitor experiences.

Natural History Museum is divided into five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology. There are more than 70 million items there. Particularly famous is exhibition of dinosaur skeletons. One of them is Dippie – a 105 foot long replica Diplodocus carnegii skeleton, situated within the central hall. Another interesting display is the skeleton of a blue whale.

Natural History Museum is free, but some special exhibitions can be paid. It is opened from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and on Sunday from 2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.
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