Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History MuseumA natural history museum is a museum that exhibits galleries about natural history. These galleries include exhibitions on the topics of animals, plants, geology and ecosystems. There are also museums which include natural history galleries in addition to other collections they exhibit. For example, science, art or history. This article will give some information about the three most popular natural history museums in the world, namely the ones in London, Paris and New York.

Natural History Museum London

The natural history museum in London is a museum that exhibits various specimens from different segments of natural history. Together with the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, it is one of the three major museums in London. The Natural History Museum is just a few minute walk from the South Kensington Tube Station. The museum in London hosts five main collections, namely zoology, paleontology, botany, entomology and mineralogy. The natural history museum in London is known for specializing in research on the topics of taxonomy, conservation and identification. Also, a great number of collection have great historical value. For example, the museum exhibits specimens collected by Charles Darwin, ornate architecture and dinosaur skeletons.


The Natural History Museum initially started as being part of the British Museum. However, as the natural history departments began to grow larger over time, it was decided that a separate building from the British Museum was needed due to the limited space. A petition was made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking that the Natural History Museum gained independence. This sparkled intense debates since different parties preferred the natural history departments to remain part of the British Museum. After heated discussions, which lasted for nearly one hundred years, the Natural History Museum gained independence by passing the British Museum Act in 1963. The Natural History Museum is built in Victorian style architecture and has an ornate terracotta façade. The façade was designed by Gibbs and Canning. The terracotta façade represents the past and present diversity of nature. In 1986, the museum added the Geological Museum of the British Geological Survey to its collection. The Geological Museum has long been competing for space in the Natural History Museum. The Geological Museum became known globally for its unique exhibitions. The exhibitions include an active volcano model and an earthquake machine. Also, the Museum housed the world’s first computer-enhances exhibition. This exhibition was called the Treasures of the Earth. The galleries of the Geological Museum were rebuilt in 1996 and two new galleries were opened, namely The Earth Galleries and The Life Galleries.


The galleries in London’s Natural History Museum are divided in different color zones, namely the red, green, blue and orange zone. The Red Zone is a gallery which is themed around the changing and evolving history of the planet Earth. The main themes in this gallery are centered around geology and specimens. Also known as the Earth Lab, visitors get to see different fossils, minerals and rocks. This part of the gallery is , however, only open to reserved groups. The Earth Lab allows for an interactive approach to the galleries and allows visitors to look at specimens by using microscopes. The gallery also includes a section called Lasting Impressions which allows for visitors to touch fossils, minerals and rocks. The Green Zone is a gallery which includes exhibitions about the diversity of life on Earth. It includes exhibitions about birds, fossil marine reptiles and creepy crawlies. The Blue Zone features exhibitions from dinosaurs to massive mammals. The Blue Zone features the diversity of life on Earth. It includes large dinosaur skeletons, mammals and other skeletons. There is also space for temporary exhibitions in the Jerwood Gallery. The Cardogan Gallery is also located in the Blue Zone and includes unique treasures. The Orange Zone hosts the Darwin Centre, also known as the Darwin Centre’s Cocoon. Inside the Cocoon, visitors can see hundreds of museum specimens. From beetles and butterflies to plans, tarantulas and historic herbaria. Also, the Darwin Centre includes snakes and sharks preserved in glass jars and tanks. Visitors are always recommended to visit the Darwin Centre due to its unique experience.

Natural Museum of Natural History Paris

The National Museum of Natural History in Paris, also known as Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, was established in 1635. It was the first natural history museum as we know it today. The museum is located on the Rue Cuvier in the center of Paris. The museum is on walking distance from the metro stops Jussieu, Place Monge and Austerlitz. The museum in Paris has a total of 62 million specimens. Also, it is visited by almost two million people per year.


The Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle was officially founded during the French Revolution in 1793. Before this time it was part of the royal garden of the medicinal plants. This garden was created by King Louis XIII and was directed by royal physicians. In the 18th century, the royal garden was directed by a leading naturalist of the Enlightenment period, namely Georges-Louis Leclerc. Under his direction, he brought the royal garden prestige and international fame. The museum survived the French Revolution and was reorganized to be a republican national history museum. After this time, the aims of the museum were to inform the public about natural history and conduct scientific research. During the 19th century, a lot of scientific research was conducted and the museum became a rival to the University of Paris. Since 1907, the museum has also focused on the effects on the environment of human exploitation.

Research and Public Knowledge

The mission of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle is to develop fundamental and applied research. Also, it focuses on public diffusion of knowledge. The national history museum has seven research departments and three departments that focus on knowledge diffusion. The research departments are Prehistory, History of Earth, Classification and Evolution, Aquatic Environments and Populations, Regulation and Molecular Diversity, and Men and Societies. The diffusion departments are The Museum of Man, The Galleries of the Jardin des Plantes, and the Botanical Parks and Zoo. Next to research and diffusion, the museum also focuses on education. The museum has developed higher education and also allows for students to follow a master’s degree. Related to the museum is Friends of the Natural History Museum Paris. This is a private organization that provides funding and financial support to the museum and its different departments. Members who are part of Friends of the Natural History Museum Paris have free entry to the museum and the botanical gardens. The members of the organization have not only assisted the museum financially, but have also provided assistance regarding purchasing collections over the years. Moreover, they have also contributed to the structural and scientific development.

American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History, also known as AMNH, is located in New York City. Located on the Upper West in Manhattan, AMNH is one of the largest museums in the world and attracts over 5 million visitors on a yearly basis. The museum is located close to Central Park. The museum comprises 27 different buildings which are connected and they house 45 permanent exhibitions. The museum also includes a library and a planetarium. Currently, the museum has a collection of over 32 million specimens. The collection includes fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, humans and human cultural artifacts. The whole collection occupies a space of over 190.000 m2. It has a scientific staff of over 225 people, and the museum sponsors 120 special field expeditions each year. The mission of the American Museum of Natural History is to “discover, interpret, and disseminate – through scientific research and education – knowledge about human cultures, the natural world and the universe”.

Different halls

The AMNH features six large halls. These halls include exhibitions about mammals, birds and reptiles, biodiversity and environment, human origins and culture, earth and planetary science, and fossils. The Akeley Hall of African Mammals depicts the great diversity of ecosystems found in Africa and the mammals endemic to them. The Akeley Hall of African Mammals’s highlight is the group of eight African elephants situated in a alarmed formation. While the elephants are the centerpiece of the Akeley Hall, the halls also features a great collection of flora and birds from Africa. The Sanford Hall of North American birds is located next to the Akeley Hall. The hall depicts birds from all over Northern America and shows the birds in their native habitats. The Sanford Hall opened its doors in 1909 and displayed the dioramas. The dioramas are the oldest still on display. The hall also exhibits large collections of raptors, warblers and owls.

One of the halls in the category of biodiversity and environment, is the Hall of North American Forests. It displays ten dioramas symbolizing a range of forest types from all over North America. This hall opened in 1959 and was guided by botanist Henry K. Svenson. The collections shown in the Hall of North American Forests are constructed of a combination of actual barks and other specimens, and art supplies. Another hall that falls under the category of biodiversity and environment is the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. This hall focuses of marine biology, marine conservation and botany. The centerpiece of this hall is the 29 meter long blue whale model. The hall is a fully immersive marine environment with video projects and interactive computer stations. Also, the hall includes eight new ocean ecosystem displays. It transports visitors through different beautiful collections, including the Indo-Pacific coral reefs.


The Hall of African Peoples is a hall about human origins and culture. The hall includes a large collection of spiritual costumes. A comparison is made of African societies based on animal domestication, cultivation, and hunting and gathering. Each different society is presented in an ecological, spiritual, historical and political context. Moreover, a section is also dedicated to the African diaspora spread by the slave trade. The Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals displays unusual geological specimens. The collection includes hundreds of different geological specimens. It shows many valuable and rare gemstones. The exhibition was built between 1970 and 1976, and is believed to be one of the finest museum installations that the world has ever seen.


The collection of mammalian and dinosaur fossils mostly remain hidden from public view. These collection are kept in numerous storage areas in the museum complex. One of these storage facilities is the Childs Frick Building. The building was designed with special steel to carry the great weight of the fossil bones. The Childs Frick Building currently houses the largest collection of fossil mammals and dinosaurs in the world. The collections are located on the bottom floors of the building, while the upper floors are reserved for offices and laboratories. It is in this building where intensive research programs are carried out on the various topics, including paleontology.


Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1905x
Added: 18-03-2016 21:50
Last modified: 19-03-2016 11:27

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