Behind the Times

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by TianjinPaul on August 8, 2012

The trip my girlfriend and I took to the Natural History Museum in the Kensington area of London was always going to be steeped in nostalgia for me as it was a location to which my father would often take me as a child. Therefore, as we entered through the magnificent and slightly imposing entrance, there were scores of memories that were coming flooding back to me at quite a rate. I was very much expecting to drift back to the days when, as a small child, I would hold my father's hand as we wandered around the many exhibits. However, I was not expecting to find many of those exhibits still on show in the museum.

The age of much of the exhibits and the displays in the museum seemed both positive and negative. In the dinosaur section, the changing of a few signs and the addition of a mechanised Tyrannosaurus failed to draw any attention away from some of the fantastic fossils and skeletons that were on display. Just as when I was a child, this section left me fascinated and I could easily have stared at the skeletons of the fearsome creatures fro hours.

I felt similar emotions in the marine section where a model and the skeleton of a Blue Whale hang over the auditorium and give the viewer an imposing view. Both the skeleton and the model have been there for years and are something of an institution – I would have been heartbroken had I discovered they had been removed. However, there were several small games and displays for children along the walls of the marine section that were, quite frankly, a little embarrassing. They had been installed in the 1990s and involved pulling levers to reveal hand-painted pictures. In the age of touch screens and £D presentations, they didn't really cut the mustard. Although there was one fantastic aspect of the marine section where you could stand on a scale to measure your weight, which was then compared to various mammals to discover how much heavier they are than you – for the record a blue whale was several hundred times heavier than me.

The remainder of the museum went along similar lines. There was an insect display that featured lots of insects and spiders in glass cases, which have been there for years and are fascinating in themselves. However, again, there were a few displays that were showing their age. This followed on in the earth section which was opened in the 1990s and talks of Climate Change as a potential problem for the future rather than something that is very much an issue today.

Overall, the content of the Natural History Museum is fantastic. There is no-one – whether they are a full-grown adult or a small child – who would not find the dinosaur display fascinating. Equally, the marine section, whilst a little rough around the edges, was also extremely interesting. However, in certain sections, it is very much in need of some refurbishment and modernisation.

Entrance to the museum is free, which is fantastic for those taking a family. The nearest subway stop is South Kensington.
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London, England, SW7 5BD
+44 20 7942 5000

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