And then I thought: Who am I kidding- in a tossup between a controversial new Kate Middleton portrait and dinosaurs, dinosaurs are going to win every time, am I right?
So I went to the Natural History Museum and... it was an experience. You know what it's like Christmas shopping the week before Christmas? Picture that... except with more children. I am exhausted, but undeterred in sharing with you the ups and downs of my visit so, enjoy- I should be getting hazard pay for this one.
When I first walked up to the building, I was immediately in love with the architecture- it is one of the prettiest buildings I've seen so far in London. And then as I got closer, I saw the line. And the line just kept extending fooooooorevvvvv-ver. We're talking Versailles-type lines. It was rough- and that wasn't even the only entrance line!
After waiting for an hour in line, I got in and was equally if not more impressed by the interior- both inside and out every single detail was attended to. There were plants carved into the walls, different large cats carved between each of the gables on the roof, and little monkeys carved climbing all around the arches (god I loved those monkeys- I took probably 8-10 pictures of those alone). It really felt like a church to the natural world, and I love loved the building.
You'll notice how much I keep talking about how great the building was? Well, for me, it was sadly the best part of the museum. I was so overwhelmed by the huge crowds that I didn't have a great experience looking at the exhibits. The rooms that catered less to small children were less crowded, and I loved looking at all of the minerals, but almost every other room was just a madhouse of people. I would say I probably spent almost as much time in line as I did actually going through the museum.
-The building was absolutely gorgeous, both inside and out
-Free, barring a few special exhibits (which looked reasonably priced)
-A wide variety of animals, fossils, and minerals to see
-Exhibits specifically tailored to young children (especially the bug exhibit), as well as more traditional exhibits
-Long lines to get in (an hour for me) followed by equally long lines to see the dinosaur exhibit (another hour according to the signs- I didn't wait to see)
-Extremely crowded, to the detriment of my enjoyment
-Not particularly easy to navigate
-To be honest, all the taxidermied animals kind of bummed me out (personal opinion though)
I would like to preface this by saying that when looking at their website, I see that the schools are on holiday right now, so my visit may have been ill timed. That being said, I found this museum to be unenjoyably crowded and wouldn't recommend it to other adults with limited time to visit places in London. If however, you have children with you, they will probably really enjoy it, making you the best parent ever (seriously- so crowded) for taking them. If you decide to go with children, I would recommend buying tickets to an exhibit ahead of time- it looked like people that paid for exhibits were able to skip the lines to get in, making for far happier kids.