A Little Off Base: Animal kingdom
LONDON — Visitors can find creatures great and small — some extinct and others very much still inhabiting the planet — at the Natural History Museum in London.
The museum, which dates to the 18th century, is arranged into four zones, named for colors, and categorized by their exhibits, such as mammals, earth science and services.
If you start at the Cromwell Road entrance, dinosaurs welcome you. In this exhibit are skeletal structures from millions of years ago and interactive displays that are fun teaching tools for children as well as adults.
Young or older, one thing sure to grab one’s attention is a life-sized Tyrannosaurus rex at the end of the exhibit. The T. rex is equipped with animatronics and moves toward visitors as they walk past.
Old lizard bones not your cup of tea? Then how about contemporary mammals?
The top attraction of the mammals exhibit is a giant replica of a blue whale that dominates the large room. Next to it is a stuffed rhinoceros. And above it are skeletons of other whales that offer insight to the size of these underwater goliaths.
Nearby are hallways lined with stuffed animals of both the ferocious and cuddly kind, as well as marine life and reptiles.
When tired of animals, head to the human biology exhibit to learn more about yourself. The exhibit starts off with displays on such things as conception and the study of genes.
Another feature is about the brain and its functions, including interactive displays on memory. The displays allow visitors to test and build on their own memory prowess and to show how stress can affect memory.
Across from human biology is the creepy crawlies exhibit. Inside is a display on insects that lurk in kitchens, often out of sight.
In plain view, however, is a large moving model of a scorpion that wards off those people who get too close with its stinger.
Further into the museum are exhibits about Earth, from its beginnings to the present and how mankind has affected the planet.
The immense museum cannot be fully appreciated in one day, so an option for visitors is to hit the highlights one day and visit another day to bone up on the details.
Getting there ...Admission to the Natural History Museum is free, except for temporary exhibits.
Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:50 p.m.
The nearest Underground station is South Kensington. Visitors can bypass vehicle traffic by taking a pedestrian subway from the station to the museum.
For more information, go to www.nhm.ac.uk