On this episode of Museum of the Week, I went to what I believe to be one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen, The Natural History Museum! Located in the heart of South Kensington, The Natural History Museum is the perfect place for anyone of any age to visit and enjoy. The minute that you walk into the museum you are greeted with a gigantic whale skeleton, hanging above the grand foyer. It is honestly breathtaking. From there you can explore millions of specimens from old pressed flowers, to gigantic, intact dinosaur skeletons. The museum aims to showcase the specimens of the world and their historical value. Many of which are from the time of Darwin! For the class this week however, we focused on a particular part of the museum called, Cocoon.
So Cocoon is basically what it sounds like. It’s a giant cocoon like structure built into the far end of the museum. Rather than being much of an exhibit, it is a place that holds an incredible collection of preserved bugs and plant life. It is one of the most extensive in the world. Because of this, the museum needed to build something that would keep all of the specimens safe from a nasty bug called a ‘museum beetle’ and other dangers like fire or water damage. As a visitor, you take an elevator up to the top of this big, white cocoon, and go down it in a spiral, seeing interesting plant life along the way. Now on the inside of the cocoon is where all the specimens are housed, but you can’t see them. This was quite different from a normal museum experience because you had to understand the value of these specimens without seeing them for yourself. They really are valuable for researchers, who you can see working through thick, fireproof glass. Now unfortunately since I was in class, I did not get a chance to take any photos of the Cocoon, but just try to imagine a large, white oval stretching up about six stories, and there you have it!
Apart from the incredible collection that this museum houses, I really cannot get over the beauty of the building that it is housed in. Since I’ve been in London I find myself constantly in awe of the architecture. Maybe because it is so much older than the United States, or maybe because it just is more beautiful, not quite sure. But this was one of the first areas in London where I looked around and really felt like I was in the stereotypical, posh, idea of a London street and I loved it. This course has really let me explore a lot of neighborhoods in London and let me admire the history and beauty of this city.
Also here’s a dinosaur just for fun.