74.8 F
HomeColumnsGreat London BuildingsGreat London Buildings: Natural History Museum

Great London Buildings: Natural History Museum

London Forecast

broken clouds
74.8 ° F
77.4 °
71.7 °
48 %
71 %
75 °
68 °
60 °
64 °
67 °
USD - United States Dollar

Popular London Tours


The Tube: Best London Underground Phone and Mobile Apps

There are several mobile apps to help you make...

Where Did Ten of London’s Most Famous Streets Get Their Names?

London, a city steeped in history and culture, is...

The Tube: 10 Interesting Facts about the Circle Line

The Circle Line is one of London’s oldest Tube...

Exploring London’s 20 Oldest Historic Pubs: A Journey Through Time

London holds within its labyrinthine streets a treasure trove...

London and the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution changed the world forever.  The coming...

Londinium: 10 Interesting Facts and Figures about Roman London

  Londinium was the Roman name given to the settlement...

How London Became the United Kingdom’s Capital

Long one of the greatest cities in the world;...

Enter to Win the Great London Lego Giveaway!

After the popularity of our tea giveaway earlier this...


Nestled within the heart of London in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum stands as a testament to both scientific inquiry and architectural grandeur. With its striking Romanesque architecture and intricate detailing, the museum not only houses a treasure trove of natural wonders but also serves as a remarkable example of Victorian design. Let us embark on a journey through time, unraveling the architectural history that defines this iconic institution.

The inception of the Natural History Museum dates back to the 19th century, a period marked by burgeoning scientific exploration and a growing fascination with the natural world. In 1851, the Great Exhibition held at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park showcased the advancements of the era, igniting a fervor for knowledge and discovery. Inspired by this momentum, a group of visionaries spearheaded the creation of a museum dedicated to the natural sciences.

The site chosen for the museum was Cromwell Gardens in South Kensington, strategically positioned amidst other cultural institutions forming what would later be known as “Albertopolis,” named after Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria and a staunch supporter of the arts and sciences. The architectural competition for the museum attracted numerous submissions, but it was Alfred Waterhouse, a young architect with a burgeoning reputation whose design captured the imagination of the judges.

Waterhouse’s vision for the Natural History Museum was nothing short of spectacular. Drawing inspiration from Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, he envisioned a structure that would evoke a sense of awe and reverence befitting the exploration of the natural world. The museum’s facade is adorned with intricate terracotta ornamentation, featuring a plethora of flora and fauna meticulously crafted by skilled artisans.

Great London Buildings: Natural History Museum

One of the most striking features of the museum is its central entrance hall, aptly named the Hintze Hall in honor of Sir Michael Hintze, a generous benefactor. Upon entering this cavernous space, visitors are greeted by the sight of a soaring vaulted ceiling adorned with intricate arches and decorative motifs. The hall exudes an air of grandeur, inviting guests to embark on a journey of discovery through the museum’s vast collections.

The architectural marvels of the Natural History Museum extend beyond its facade and entrance hall. The museum comprises a series of galleries arranged around a central atrium, each dedicated to a specific branch of the natural sciences. From the majestic Blue Whale skeleton suspended in the Mammal Hall to the dazzling minerals and gemstones showcased in the Earth Hall, every corner of the museum tells a story of Earth’s rich and diverse history.

One cannot discuss the architectural history of the Natural History Museum without mentioning its iconic Waterhouse Building, named in honor of its esteemed architect. Completed in 1881, this masterpiece of Victorian architecture seamlessly blends form and function, with its distinctive towers and turrets housing laboratories, offices, and storage facilities. The building’s red brick exterior lends it a sense of warmth and character, while its expansive interiors provide ample space for the museum’s growing collections.

Over the years, the Natural History Museum has undergone several renovations and expansions to accommodate its ever-expanding collection and evolving visitor experience. In 2009, the museum embarked on an ambitious redevelopment project known as “Darwin Centre Phase 2,” which saw the construction of a state-of-the-art cocoon-shaped building housing scientific research facilities and interactive exhibits.

Today, the Natural History Museum continues to inspire and educate visitors from around the globe, serving as a beacon of knowledge and discovery in the heart of London. Its architectural splendor stands as a testament to the ingenuity and vision of those who conceived it, while its collections offer a window into the wonders of the natural world.

The Natural History Museum in London is more than just a repository of specimens; it is a living testament to the intersection of science and art, a celebration of human curiosity and exploration. From its majestic facade to its labyrinthine galleries, every aspect of the museum’s architecture tells a story of innovation and discovery. As we continue to unravel the mysteries of the natural world, the architectural legacy of the Natural History Museum will undoubtedly endure, inspiring generations to come.

Author: jonathan

Jonathan is a consummate Anglophile who launched Anglotopia.net in 2007 to channel his passion for Britain. Londontopia is its sister publication dedicated to everything London.

Book London Tours Now!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here