Last week we walked past huge queues outside the Natural History Museum, both morning and mid afternoon, and wondered what was on. Today we found out (by chance) how to avoid a similar fate. We planned to visit the recently opened Darwin Centre, and booked a timed, free, ticket to the Cocoon. This magical piece of paper allowed us to walk right past the enormously long queue, straight to the security desk.
I would recommend this method, as the cocoon is interesting. Using very modern technology, there are interactive activities, which could inspire a new generation of entomologists.
The museum, in the true spirit of evolution, has evolved a lot since we last visited, with many new exhibitions. A whole day is only just enough time to very briefly visit every exhibition. Fortunately we had enough time to visit the dinosaur exhibition,before our cocoon time, as after we came out again, there were queues up to the 45 minute marker (and that of course is after the patiently waiting families had survived the long wait outside in the freezing cold). But I guess dinosaurs are a must see for every child.
The best experience in our opinion, was the Attenborough Theatre interactive multimedia presentation of how animals see. This was extremely well done. We joined the other spectators to have a 30 minute rest, but found it really interesting.
The Natural History Museum is an extremely popular attraction with up to 20,000 visitors per day on a weekend, The decision to remove entry charges was clearly a wonderful way to encourage families and others to be inspired by the exhibits, even if they do try to recoup the costs with their exorbitant charges in the cafes and restaurants.