Natural History Museum
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Address: Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5000
Nearest Underground Stations: South Kensington on the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines, and Gloucester Road.
Buses: 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414 and C1.
Entry is free (there may be a charge for temporary exhibitions).
Hours of opening: 7 days a week, from 10 am to 5.50 pm.
The Museum is open every day except 24-25-26 December. Last admission is at 5.30 pm.
DESCRIPTION & HISTORY
It was formerly called British Museum (Natural History). It is a British natural science museum with both national and international responsibilities for taxonomic (ie relating to the classification of organisms in an ordered system) and associated research, based on its outstanding collection of specimens and its extensive libraries. It is located near the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum in South Kensington, London.
The museum was formerly an integral part of the British Museum, which originated in 1753 when the government acquired the collections of Sir Hans Sloane. Under the superintendency of Richard Owen, the natural history collections were moved to the current premises in Cromwell Road, which opened to the public in 1881.
Designed especially for the purpose by Alfred Waterhouse, the building is an outstanding example of Victorian Romanesque architecture. It has been extended a number of times, mainly to provide storage and facilities for the museum's services.
By act of Parliament in 1963, the Natural History Museum gained its own board of trustees and became fully independent of the British Museum. In 1986 the trustees took over responsibility for the adjacent Geological Museum, to which there is now direct access from the Natural History Museum.
There is also a branch museum at Tring, Hertfordshire, 30 miles (50 km) northwest of London. Known as the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, it was bequeathed to the nation by the 2nd Baron Rothschild in the early 20th century.
There are also highly significant historical collections, such as those of James Cook resulting from his expeditions to the Pacific and of Charles Darwin from his voyage on HMS Beagle. The collections are organized in departments of botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology; a subdepartment of ornithology is based at Tring.
Despite its academic nature, the museum is fun to visit, is a common haunt for tourists, and has a number of popular displays.
To bring the public closer to the natural world, the Museum has thought of using the name of the great British TV presenter of wildlife programs, Sir David Attenborough, a pioneer in the field of natural history documentaries with 50 years of experience. A new live communications space in his honour, the David Attenborough Studio, in partnership with the BBC, will form the heart of the Natural History Museum's new Darwin Centre Phase Two building, and will open to the public in 2009.
Website of the museum: Natural History Museum