Jess, aged 15, writes: I visited the Natural History Museum frequently when I was younger (in fact, one of my earliest memories is looking at the dinosaurs), but I hadn’t been for at least five years until one of my friends suggested a visit. It’s strange being a teenager at museums: exhibits are either super babyish or ridiculously quiet and intellectual, and attempts at appealing to teenagers usually involve cringe-y “LOL”s and hashtags. We wondered if the museum had changed much since we last visited it, and if there would be anything for us.
We started out in the “Red Zone”, which is all about earth’s structure. My friend and I were instantly entranced by the entrance: an escalator leading into a giant model of the earth. It seemed like the start of a ride at Disneyworld! The first exhibition was one I remembered from years ago – “Volcanoes and Earthquakes”. Despite both of us being Geography GCSE students and already knowing most of the facts, we really enjoyed the exhibition – it was colourful, in depth, relatively up to date, and had lots to see and do. Particular highlights were casts from Pompeii and a supermarket that simulates the 1996 Great Hanshin earthquake.
Next, we passed through the “Human Evolution” and “Earth’s Treasures” galleries, which we found fascinating. “Human Evolution” features lots of realistic models of different human species over time, and “Earth’s Treasures” is full of minerals and jewels of every size and colour. While these were definitely exciting to look at, it was also very interesting to learn about mineral structure and history of metals. My friend and I were pleasantly surprised – we didn’t remember any of this from when we were younger, and it was set at a perfect level for us.
Next came the “Blue Zone”, which was all about biology. We both remembered this room, which contains a gigantic blue whale model. There was a lot to see and do, and while everything was impressive, we got bored very quickly. Everything was exactly the same as we remembered, and it seemed quite faded and repetitive. However, there was another exhibition about human biology which we really enjoyed – while it was old, unchanged, and some things didn’t work, there were lots of games to play and videos to watch. We enjoyed a game where you had to keep a boy alive by monitoring breathing rates, food consumption and more (we failed), circus mirrors, and an unintentionally funny video about getting hurt while being scared of a dog. We learnt nothing, but it was a lot of fun!
Next came the dinosaurs, which we were really looking forward to. This was the busiest part of the museum, and as expected, it was seemingly unchanged from when we were younger. The dinosaurs were as gigantic and awe-inspring as ever, and we spent a long time in the exhibition. However, this wasn’t our favourite part of the museum…
The “Treasures” gallery is something I had never ever heard of before, but my friend and I thought it was amazing. It is a collection of 22 of the most remarkable objects in the museums collection, and we spent about 40 minutes just in this small room. This includes pages from the world’s most expensive book: (“John James Audubon’s Birds of America”), and my personal favourite, an emperor penguin egg collected on Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to Antarctica. This was with the aim of finding a link between reptiles and birds by looking at the penguin’s embryo. My friend and I were shocked and amazed by this story, and I went home and looked it up to find out more. Here’s a video from the museum:
Overall, my friend and I had a really great time at the Natural History museum. We learnt a lot and had a lot of fun interacting with the exhibits. However, we thought that the famous parts of the museum (the dinosaurs and the mammals) weren’t as interesting as the rest of it. We definitely had a good time, but we won’t be making a return visit, seeing as it hasn’t really changed that much.
Entrance to the Natural History Museum is free, although there is a charge for some exhibitions. The Treasures Gallery is now undergoing refurbishment, but will reopen this summer.