The Natural History Museum embodies englishness in a transnational, worldwide way. It is home to everything from Dinosaurs, ancient trees, and prehistoric rocks, to newly discovered tree frogs and butterflies. This space preserves a history of nature and opens its doors to educate individuals about the vastness of our planet.
The building itself is an incredible example of iconic spaces in London. Its architecture is ornate and intricate. A massive vaulted ceiling greets you as you walk in and a person realizes that even the presentation of history is important. Britain takes great pride in its presentation of nature. It is an interesting idea, to preserve nature within the walls of a building. Each hallway of the museum is a different time period or theme, all neatly organized and categorized.
Walking through the exhibits in this museum was interesting but chaotic, there were children running, parents arguing, people bustling around from one place to another. Places like these give me mixed feelings. On one hand I love the exhibits and all the knowledge that can be gained by reading the plaques and taking in the imagery of the place. It is like walking through a history book! On the other hand, it is impossible to have a quiet moment to reflect and soak in the immense amount information that is presented in a place like this.
The Natural History Museum also has a interactive and vast website which I found useful after leaving. I needed more time to digest everything that was lining those halls! The website helped, the Dino directory especially was cool since it was the most fun exhibit.
The question I asked myself while I was walking through the museum was how it reflected on Englishness. The purpose of the museum is to preserve nature from all over the world. This can be found outside of the museum though. Churches with their ornate and old architecture preserve, in their stone, the culture that they were built in. The museum preserves englishness within its walls. There may be apes from Africa and whales from the ocean but they are on english soil and have become in a way english themselves.
Here are links to some of the major natural history museums in America. Compare and contrast! Are they free? Open for many hours? How accessible are their websites?
Los Angeles Natural History Museum