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Dubbed “the cocoon”, the £78m building houses 17 million insects and three million plant specimens.
But the exhibits aren’t the only attraction.
You also get to observe some of the 200 scientists at work in the centre, and there are plenty of opportunities to meet the experts and ask questions.
In the Attenborough Studio, curators give daily talks and demonstrations.
These vary from day to day: you may see a bottle of spiders collected by Charles Darwin, handle fossils, or see live scorpions that glow under ultraviolet light.
Dr Caroline Smith, Curator of Meteorites, and Alan Hart, Head of Mineralogy, are a fascinating double act.
In their presentation, they show off two exhibits:
- A 460-carat diamond crystal which, at three billion years old, is one of the most ancient things you’re ever likely to see
- A 1.3 billion-year-old meteorite from Mars called Nakhla, which landed in Egypt in 1911
They ask the audience to vote for the most impressive object. Which would you choose?
All in all, the new Darwin Centre is well worth a visit – for the architecture, the exhibits, and the unique opportunity to interact with scientists working in this interesting field.
The Darwin Centre opens to the public on 15 September. Entrance is free.