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The Natural History Museum in London

Background History of the Museum

Located on the Exhibit road, along the south Kensington area, the main frontage of the Natural History Museum is on the side of Cromwell Road. The Museum has 70 million specimens gathered from earth and life sciences.

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The Museum is known as a center for research, conservation, identification, and taxonomy.

It contains manuscripts, journals, extensive books, art works, dinosaurs skeletons, and is famous for its ornate architecture.

It is located in the landmark building called the Alfred Waterhouse which was commissioned in 1881. It has the geology department, Darwin center, and arts collection center next to the museum library.

“Management of the Museum is undertaken by our Museum Director and the Executive Board. The Museum Director reports to the governing board of 12 Trustees, nine of whom are appointed by the Prime Minister and the DCMS” (“Interior of the NHM: Royal Institute of British Architects “, par. 6).

Architecture and History

The initial specimens for this Museum were purchased from the philanthropic Dr. Sloane who sold his priceless collection to the government at prices below the market rates at the time.

The interior of the Waterhouse building were done in terracotta tiles which is known to be resistant to the sooty Victorian climate. The same was repeated for the exterior parts.

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Laid with artistic preciseness, the bricks and tiles created relief sculptures that remain astonishing as they were before.

These sculptures represent different specimens in the extensive flora and fauna and depict both the extinct and living species on east and west wings.

During the first visit, a keen visitors would easily notice the link created by these sculptures on the past life and present life.

The “Abertopolis complex complete the natural view of this museum as its axis is aligned to Royal Albert Hall, Imperial college, and Albert Memorial” (“Interior of the NHM: Royal Institute of British Architects “, par. 6).

Content of the Museum

The main collection of this scientific museum comprises of earth and life science specimens gathered over a period of more than 400 years. At present, the statistical count of these specimens is seventy million.

The collection “comprises of virtually all groups of animals, plants, minerals, and fossils from across the world, and even the universe” (“Museum of life: The Natural Museum”, par. 4).

Among the notable collecting form this Museum are the remains of the now extinct dinosaurs and “microscopic slides to mammoth skeletons” (“Museum of life: The Natural Museum”, par. 7).

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Notably, the collection boasts of representing the past and present and is a window to future projections. Thus, from viewing and interacting with the informed staff of this public museum, a visitor is in a position to understand the effects of climatic changes, natural disaster, and human activity on the flora and fauna of Mother Nature.

Interestingly, the museum’s collection presents a quantifiable monitoring tools for comparison of the past life and present life by studying changing “environmental patterns and its effect on the planet” (“Museum of life: The Natural Museum” , par. 9).

As indicated in the museum’ website, “in our day to day lives, scientists have used the collection to better understand problems with farming and disease” (“Museum of life: The Natural Museum”, par. 10). Generally, these generational collections “are a source of boundless inspiration and wonder” (“Museum of life: The Natural Museum”, par. 11)

Besides these specimen s is the research center and a library stocked with different books and a collection of art works.

What the Museum offers to Students

The museum offers students opportunity to “view remains of over 55 million different animals, different archaeopteryx specimens, nine million fossils, six million lichen and different members of the mosses, ferns, algae, and diatoms. The museum also offers an opportunity of actually touching more than five hundred thousand minerals and rocks” (“Museum Governance: The Natural History Museum”, par. 5).

In addition, the visitors are given a firsthand opportunity to peruse different collection of “books in the world’s finest history library” (“Museum Governance: The Natural History Museum”, par. 5). This collection comprises of more than “one million printed books, twenty five thousand periodical titles, five hundred thousand original drawings, paintings, and print, and seventy five thousand maps” (“Interior of the NHM: Royal Institute of British Architects “, par. 6).

Specifically, and being the largest in the world, the museum has a unique collection of “850,000 ‘type’ specimens” (“Museum of life: The Natural Museum”, par. 7). The ‘type’ specimens consist of unique specimen of species that are of high value and not easily available elsewhere.

In addition to “traditional collections, the Museum is also home to cell and tissue cultures, DNA banks and other molecular records. These provide taxonomists with the means to conserve and study the genetic biology of plants and animals” (“Museum Governance: The Natural History Museum”, par. 9). The students thus will be in a position to learn from observation and touch.

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Importance of these collections

The unique collection in this Museum offer inspiring and educational purposes to visitors.

These purposes include understanding organism behavior and projecting possible changes on the same in future.

Besides, projects running in the museum enable students learn the prospects in progressing towards “solving problems in agricultural, medical, and forensic science” (Gunther 33).

In the museum’s library, there are natural images of extinct species and original records of environment these species lived in. Through these paintings and illustrations, students are in a position to understand how the extinct species survived in their lifetimes. For instance, despite the disappearance of Alfred Wallace Brazilian collection, the same has been preserved in painting within then museum’s library.

In addition, the library offers key knowledge in the 18th and 19th century adventures represented in painting and books.

Generally, the “more we know about the natural world and its biodiversity the more we can do to protect it” (“Museum Governance: The Natural History Museum”, par. 6) Thus, “by looking back over biological records, we can determine whether a particular species has decreased in number and look at the factors that may be causing this” (Gunther 56 ).

Lessons From The Museum

From the ‘type’ specimens, a visitor is given a lifetime opportunity to view extinct species that are not found anywhere else.

In order to understand the future, it is vital to explore the past. This museum offers an opportunity to explore the past presented in books, specimens, paintings, and slide.

Besides, the museum boast of a priceless collection of cultural artifacts and art of arts collected from across the globe. Thus, it is in order to assert that visiting the museum is same as having a world tour to observe diverse cultures.

Moreover, a visitor is given an opportunity to ask as many questions as she or he wants after which comprehensive answers are offered. As a result, the visitors will be in a position to pass the same knowledge to others easily thereafter.

Since the museum is run by the government, there are no charges for accessing this information. The information of environmental conservation is absolutely free.

In addition, the museum offers opportunities for students interested in careers within its periphery such as being a researcher, curator, anthropologist, geologist, zoologist, botanist, among other.

Generally, visitors will appreciate the whole process of organizing, preserving, physical access, conserving, and identification of species as the only way of preserving the past for future generations.


Visitors will learn to appreciate the essence of culture as part and parcel of an individual existing in any society. Culture is as complex as the society itself. Culture consists of unique identity symbolism, language, politics, and religion. The deep knowledge on culture is of essence in appreciating and reflecting on behavior and understanding inter and intra personal descent. From the cultural collection, these aspects are easily incorporated.

From the diverse collection, different theories on culture can be developed to explain the uniqueness and geographical setting of cultures in Britain and across the globe. The most interesting concepts in this collection are the organization dimensions, marriage and family, and globalization as defined by different artifacts in cultural anthropology. Specifically, organization dimension in paintings widens scope in understanding functionality of the then traditional system.

Work Cited

Gunther, Albert. The founders of science at the British Museum, 1753-1900. London: Halesworth, 1981. Print.

Interior of the NHM: Royal Institute of British Architects 2009. Web.

Museum Governance: The Natural History Museum 2012. Web.

Museum of life: The Natural Museum 2012. Web.

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