National History Museum: the cathedral of our history.


The National History Museum is one of the three biggest museums in the zone of South Kensington (London). It hosts more or less 80 million of finds, divided in five principal collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology and Zoology.

First, the actual museum was a cathedral but in 1881 the Natural History department of the British Museum was transferred into the actual place.

This transfer lasted more or less one year. The responsible for the building of this Museum was Richard Owen (1804-1892), a leading Victorian scientist. He was the first person to recognize the existence of giant prehistoric land reptiles.  He called them “Dinosauria”, from the Greek “terrible lizards”. 

He also studied many other species, such as the platypus and the moa. However, the building was declared as a museum  only in 1963. Apart from the transfer, the Museum was created by Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905), a famous British architect.

The Museum presents a big central cloister (near two towers) painted with bricks and blue – yellow earthenware. Leitmotiv of the National History Museum is the origin of the species and the evolution of the human being. It is divided in two sections: the Life Galleries that host the collections of the living things and the Earth Galleries, the geologic section.

Furthermore, the Museum is divided in four colored zones: the green zone, his arguments are the life, the planet, the environment and the evolution; the blue zone hosts the diversity of life on our planet; the red zone talks about the origin of the planet, his collocation in the universe; finally, the orange zone that hosts the Wildlife Garden which shows different habitats and the big Charles Darwin Center. The Museum is famous also thanks to the collection of exemplars of Darwin (1809-1882).  His unique observations were inspired by the diverse wildlife he saw during the five-year voyage of HMS Beagle.  This experience helped him to write his famous theory that was defended also by the brilliant anatomist Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895). Another important protagonist of the Darwin era was Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), a welsh naturalist. He made his evolution theory for natural selection, which was very similar to Darwin’s theory. 

Then Alfred sent his ideas to Darwin, who was quite impressed so he published his theory together with Charles theory. In the museum, in fact, behind the reconstruction of the Diplodocus skeleton, we can see Darwin statue and near it the image of Alfred Russel Wallace. This museum is a wonderful place to visit also because it is not only exposition. In fact, there is a laboratory where it is possible to take rocks to help scientist’s examination.

There is the simulation of the 1995 Kobe earthquake and we can also change rivers course and the climate with a simulating game.