Visit London Blog » natural history museum http://blog.visitlondon.com Enjoy the very best of London Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:00:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Museums at Night 2014 http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/museums-at-night-2014/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/museums-at-night-2014/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 11:59:00 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38216

Museums at Night, the annual night-time festival of arts, heritage and culture, will take place between Thursday 15 May and Saturday 17 May this year.

The packed programme sees the UK’s best museums, galleries and public spaces putting on cultural events over the three-day festival. Here’s what to look forward to in London:

Over two nights (15-16 May) the 13 museums along the length of Museum Mile, stretching from Aldwych to Kings Cross, will be opening their doors from 6 to 9pm for pre-booked walking tours run by In Midtown, giving an unprecedented insight into the connections between the various iconic museums.

Following previous years’ success Somerset House will open its doors late for Museums at Night visitors to enjoy exhibitions and displays, including interactive workshops, tours and screenings, all accompanied by live music in the Seamen’s Hall.

The Horniman Museum & Gardens is extending its new family-friendly exhibition Extremes into the night, showing how artists react to extreme environments, with hot music from Zimbabwe, extremely high acrobatics, storytelling by candlelight and film screenings depicting submarine life.

The London Transport Museum is opening late on the Friday for its new exhibition Goodbye Piccadilly – from home front to Western front. Go along to find out the role London buses and bus drivers played during the First World War and how the city prepared for war. There will also be a perfume workshop by Odette Toilette and the opportunity to craft a feathered fascinator with Lulu O’Neil of Slightly Scarlett.

The RAF Museum, Hendon is hosting London-based musical duo Public Service Broadcasting for three exclusive gigs during Museums at Night. Each gig will be hosted in a secret location at the museum, perfect for artists that weave samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material around their electronic set.  Also on the night visitors can help knit a life-sized plane, or dance to the Silent Disco in the shadow of an RAF Lancaster Bomber.

The Royal Artillery Museum is hosting a guided Ghosts of the Royal Arsenal tour. Find out why even battle-hardened soldiers refuse to enter the Academy Building or lock-up the Firepower display alone. There’ll also be bangers and mash and hot cups of tea and coffee to fight off the chill.

The National Portrait Gallery is hosting a special dance performance on 16 May from the English National Ballet, inspired by David Jones’ seminal World War I poem In Parenthesis.

Pandemonium Theatre will stage the macabre Theatre of Blood, Dance of Death, Drink of Life, a reinterpretation of Hecuba and Titus Andronicus, in the underground chamber at the Brunel Museum, where six men died and Brunel nearly drowned. There will also be tango and dance workshops and cocktails at the roof top pop-up Midnight Apothecary bar.

Head over to the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology for an evening of intrigue and subterfuge as visitors must solve clues across the museum to crack the UCL Museum murder mystery. As well as a prize for the team who solves the case, there are prizes for the best dressed detectives, with a drinks reception in The Grant Museum.

You can also create your own political slogan under the expert guidance of Kelvyn Smith, aka Mr Smith, at the William Morris Gallery. Or lift a genuine gold bar weighing 13kg during a rare opportunity to visit the Bank of England Museum after hours.

If all of that just sounds exhausting then join in The Big Power Nap on Friday 16 May at the Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre. The Undercroft gallery – ruins of London’s Roman Amphitheatre – will be converted into a 2000 year old chill-out zone with ambient sounds and a roving masseuse on hand to provide a relaxing break from London life.

Other nap-spaces include the popular Dino Snores at the Natural History Museum, where you can bed in for a mix of music, art, science and cinema, and Kensington Palace is opening its doors late for a Museums at Night sleepover for children aged 7 to 11.

The Museums at Night event programme is always being updated, so to keep on top of all the amazing things going on visit www.museumsatnight.org.uk or follow @MuseumsatNight and #MatN2014 on Twitter. The BBC will also be covering the event in various capacities across the three days.

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Top Five Reasons to see Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/top-five-reasons-to-see-britain-one-million-years-of-the-human-story/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/top-five-reasons-to-see-britain-one-million-years-of-the-human-story/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 10:40:17 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37787 Neanderthal model © Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London 2014. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Natural History Homo sapiens model Neanderthal model © Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London 2014. All Rights Reserved. Museum’s blockbuster exhibition Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story opened to rave reviews last week. The Natural History Museum give five reasons why you shouldn’t miss this exhibition:

  1. Naked male models! Get up close and personal with a Neanderthal and Homo sapiens (modern human), life-sized models that were created by Dutch artists Alfons and Adrie Kennis. The Neanderthal is modelled on a male in his twenties, whose skeleton was discovered in a cave in Belgian. Neanderthals lived in Britain between 400,000 and 50,000 years ago. Highly intelligent, neanderthals were brave hunters and innovative toolmakers. The Homo sapiens model shows a man in his fifties and is based on evidence from 30,000-year-old remains found at Paviland Cave, South Wales. The exhibition also features graphic recreations of Neanderthal woman and children, as well as Homo sapiens family members.
  2. Evidence of human cannibalism: See a 14,700-year-oldGough's Cave Skull Cup Neanderthal model © Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London 2014. All Rights Reserved. skull cap which shows cut marks where flesh has been removed, a clear sign of early human cannibalistic rituals. Found alongside several others at Gough’s Cave in Somerset, these are the oldest dated skull cups in the world and the only examples known from the UK.
  3. Ancient tools: On display at the exhibition is the 400,000-year-old Furze Platt hand axe, one of the largest stone tools ever found in Europe. Discovered in Maidenhead, just outside London, in 1919, it weighs almost 3kg and is more than 30cm long. Visitors can also marvel at the Clacton spear, one of the oldest wooden tools in the world. The fire-hardened wooden spear was found at Clacton, Essex and is Clacton Spear Neanderthal model © Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London 2014. All Rights Reserved. 400,000-years-old.
  4. Trafalgar Square was once home to hippos! A hippopotamus canine from 125,000,000 years ago was unearthed from Trafalgar Square in 1960. This amazing find is displayed next to other animal fossils and specimens.
  5. Fascinating fossil facts: Fossil evidence shows that ancient Britons lived alongside and hunted elephants, rhinos and mammoths. See a 500,000-year-old rhino pelvis which is covered in marks that show it was butchered by humans.

Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story is on until 28 September 2014.

More exhibitions in London.

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Five Things to Do in London on Valentine’s Day http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/five-things-to-do-in-london-on-valentines-day/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/five-things-to-do-in-london-on-valentines-day/#comments Tue, 28 Jan 2014 09:02:27 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37499 From wartime-style dance lessons to torch-lit poetry tours, here’s our pick of offbeat things to do in London this Valentine’s Day.

Natural History Museum

1.    A Valentine’s Day African Safari at the Natural History Museum (£28)

Lovebirds with a passion for science and nature can unwind over a drink underneath the famous Diplodocus skeleton in the Natural History Museum’s iconic Central Hall, before joining one of two tours. True romantics can take the Beautiful Tour which celebrates the beauty of nature, while anti-Valentines can join the Ugly Tour which features expert-led talks on nature’s most stomach-churning work with specimens of the most gruesome creatures in the world of science. Book here

The London Eye

2.    A romantic ride on The London Eye (from £22.50)

The London Eye will be a vision in red from 13-16 February, and capsules will be adorned with roses and fairy lights to set the amorous mood. Couples can choose from several different Valentine’s Day packages that include treats like Champagne, chocolates and red roses. Book here

Late Opening at the Churchill War Rooms

3.    Valentine’s Late at Churchill War Rooms (£17.50)

Explore this historic site after dark for an evening of events and activities including dance workshops, wartime music and letter writing, all in the name of love. Journey under the streets of Whitehall to a bygone era to discover the stories of those who led the war effort in secret below ground. Get your heart racing with dance lessons in Triple Step, Lindy Hop and the Lambeth Walk. Write your own love letter with hints and tips from off duty officers. Hear stories of wartime romance and be inspired by letters from the Churchill War Room‘s own collection. Then quaff Churchill’s favourite Champagne or enjoy a bite to eat in the attraction’s pop-up bar. Book here

Tunnel of Love

4.    Tunnel of Love at Vauxhall Village (£7.50)

A disused railway arch in Vauxhall is being transformed into a tunnel of love for the Valentine’s weekend to enable lovebirds to watch movies on the big screen. From 13-16 February, film fans can snuggle up under cosy blankets to watch a mix of outdoor screenings, from art house flicks to old school classics. Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet will be shown on 14 February. The bar will offer champagne cocktails and chocolate fondue. Book here

5.    Late Night Keats at Keats House (£8)

Lovers of life and literature can spend an evening in one of London’s most romantic houses, situated in leafy Hampstead. Party Regency style with risqué games or join a torch-lit tour about Keats’s loves and losses. Not just for loved-up couples, pop-up readings and workshops will guide you through the more surreal side of love poetry. The price includes a glass of bubbly. Book here

More Valentine’s Day ideas

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visitlondon.com Guest Editor: Joanna Lumley http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/visitlondon-com-guest-editor-joanna-lumley/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/visitlondon-com-guest-editor-joanna-lumley/#comments Mon, 20 Jan 2014 11:02:43 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37270

 

Watch actor, voice-over artist, former model, author and human rights campaigner Joanna Lumley’s London Story in the video above.

During our interview Joanna told us more about why, even after nearly half a century in the UK Capital, London still excites and energises her life and work. We’ve used some of her favourite London experiences to populate our homepage www.visitlondon.com from 20 Jan-23 Jan 2014.

Here’s Joanna’s top five things to see and do in London:

Battersea Power Station and Stockwell

“I have lived in Earl’s Court, near Holland Park and in Wimbledon and now I live in Stockwell. Stockwell has a lot of extraordinary treats. It has got the most beautiful war memorial which is painted with poppies and things. Stockwell has its own personal characteristics [and] it is now linked to Nine Elms and the immense new development there. [It's also very close to] Battersea Power Station, one of the most iconic and thrilling parts of London, with its great four chimneys sticking up, you seem to see them all around, whichever side of the river you are. The power station is being developed into restaurants and places to live and offices and cafés and shops – a theatre even. Maybe [one day] I can walk to [work at] a theatre in Battersea.”

Holland Park

Holland Park is one of the best kept secrets in London. It is staggering, I took a Canadian friend there the other day and she was bewitched by it. It’s got parterres, winding paths, statues, its own little opera house. It has got a beautiful restaurant, an orangery. It has got formal duck ponds with ducks who have babies…little puffballs. It’s got peacocks which roost in the trees. It’s got tulips in springtime and magnolias. It’s got camellias coming out before the snow has even come off them, it’s a fantastic place. It sits between Holland Park Avenue and Kensington High Street. You can wander your way around – it’s got a football pitch, it’s got everything you could possibly want and wherever you go in it, you’ll find a new path and a new way. And you can wear smart shoes if you want to be a smart Londoner and not be muddy, or you can wear football boots.”

London in 24 hours: Open Top Bus Tour and Fish & Chips

“If you really have only got 24 hours, I think you should take one of those nice topless buses, they are terribly, terribly good, or go onto the river, where you get quite a different thing – the whole city sounds different. Take your camera and actually look at all these extraordinary places. If you can go to a museum, come to the British Library or the British Museum or the V&A or the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum. The Sir John Soane’s  Museum is packed with treats. Try to focus on something properly for an hour, then skitter about like a gadfly. Eat something, I know it’s England, but you have to eat some fish and chips.”

Knightsbridge, Piccadilly, Cromwell Road

“Whenever I come back to London after a long time away, the first thing I do is ask the driver to bring me straight down the Cromwell Road, towards Knightsbridge, veer off, round Hyde Park Corner, the great Quadriga of War – that fabulous chariot with four of them on top of the archway in the middle; a boy driving the horses furiously, and behind, aloft, holding the great wreath of peace, is the angel standing. Go round there, down past Buckingham Palace … and the great golden statue of Queen Victoria. Down Parliament Square, Big Ben, there it all is: still there, still gleaming. 

The British Library

“I think that I would die if I didn’t read books every day. Books are the most important part of my life and reading is the most important skill you can learn as a person on the planet. It doesn’t matter what else you have got. If you are able to read, you can learn everything that there has ever been known. You can read about everything, anywhere in any language, about every single thing that has ever been thought, or ever been invented, or discovered or dreamed of. So without reading, your life is dull, that’s what I say.

Discover more stories and enter a competition to win a fantastic stay in London at www.visitlondon.com/story #TheLondonStory

What are your recommendations for visitors to London?

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Top 10 Free London Attractions http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/top-10-free-london-attractions/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/top-10-free-london-attractions/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2014 12:28:54 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37177 Old Royal Naval College

Every visit to London should include these top London attractions. Not only are they fascinating and unique, but they’re also all free!

And we’re not the only ones to think they’re pretty good. These world-class venues were the top 10 free attractions in 2012 across London – and England too (source: VisitEngland Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions).

British Museum

British Museum

Home of the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon sculptures and mummies of Ancient Egypt, the British Museum is a treasure trove of world history and culture. The collection is free to explore, though some special exhibitions are ticketed. Free temporary displays currently include Perfect Timing: The Mostyn Tompion Clock and Wise Men From The East: Zoroastrian Traditions In Persia And Beyond.

Tate Modern. Image visitlondonimages/ britainonview/ Pawel Libera

Tate Modern

Located along the River Thames in Bankside, Tate Modern is the bright, spacious and throbbing hub of modern and contemporary art in London. There are free guided tours of this former power station every day, or you can explore the collections yourself – from Russian Revolutionary Posters to Cubist works by Picasso, Duchamp and Diego Rivera.

National Gallery

National Gallery

Where the Tate Modern showcases the new, the National Gallery celebrates the old – specifically Western European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Look out for Vermeer’s A Young Woman standing at a Virginal, Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières, van Gogh’s Sunflowers, da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks and many other unmissable classics from the masters.

Spend time with the kids at the Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

There’s plenty to discover and delight at the Natural History Museum, from the renowned Dinosaurs gallery to Treasures in the Cadogan Gallery, a permanent exhibition of historic gems such as the rare first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, a dodo skeleton and the first adult skull of a Neanderthal ever discovered. Entrance is also free to the Attenborough Studio, where you can see films, join talks and meet the experts.

The Great Bed of Ware, 1590-1760. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonVictoria and Albert Museum

Billed as the world’s greatest museum of art and design, the V&A (as it’s commonly known) is known for its world-class exhibitions on fashion, culture, art and style. As well as the huge central collection and (ticketed) special exhibitions, there are free temporary displays. Current highlights include Making it up: Photographic Fictions, Masterpieces of Chinese Painting: Digital Dragons and The Jameel Prize 3, featuring works inspired by Islamic traditions of art, craft and design.

Science Museum

Science Museum

Founded in 1857, the Science Museum explores the past, present and future of scientific discoveries through its amazing galleries, interactive displays and historic collections. Go hands on in the Launchpad interactive gallery, learn about yourself in Who Am I? and see iconic inventions such as Stephenson’s original Rocket locomotive, Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 1 and Crick and Watson’s DNA model.

National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

Princess Diana, Ian McKellen, Emmeline Pankhurst, the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens… beautiful captured moments of the great and good from throughout British history line the walls of the National Portrait Gallery. See how man familiar faces you can spot – and don’t miss the current star-studded special displays, such as Michael Peto Photographs: Mandela to McCartney, Starring Vivien Leigh: A Centenary Celebration and Bob Dylan: Face Value.

Old Royal Naval College

Old Royal Naval College

Built on the site of Greenwich Palace, along the River Thames, the Old Royal Naval College encompasses a series of fascinating historic and royal edifices. Must-sees include the magnificent Painted Hall and Chapel, located in the twin domes designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and the exhibitions and relics on display in the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre.

British Library

British Library

Beyond its famous and hushed reading rooms, the British Library is a top visitors attraction – full of fascinating exhibitions relating to literature, culture, music and more. Check out the Picture This: Children’s Illustrated Classics display (open until 26 Jan) or explore the permanent galleries’ gems, including no less than the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks and Shakespeare’s First Folio.

National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

Tales of adventure, discovery and daring deeds bring fresh life to the fascinating history of life on the high seas. The world’s largest maritime museum, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has something for everyone: a Children’s Gallery and Ship Simulator for the little ones, free exhibitions such as Maritime London: 1700 To Now and Nelson, Navy, Nation (featuring Nelson’s iconic uniform) and art from the likes of George Stubbs.

More free London attractions

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10 of the Best London Lions http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/12/10-of-the-best-london-lions/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/12/10-of-the-best-london-lions/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 09:30:37 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=36814

For an urban area, London has quite a few lions. But not all of the fluffy-fur-and-big-teeth variety. From stone lions to stage lions to the real thing, we round up 10 of the best places to see the king of beasts in London.

London Zoo

If you want to see a real, roaring, mane-tossing lion in London, London Zoo is the place to go. This marvellous menagerie is home to members of the Asian lion species – of which there are fewer than 300 left in the wild – including Lucifer (pictured above).

Royal Beasts at the Tower of London

Lions were just one of the many exotic animals kept in the Tower of London’s Royal Menagerie. Founded in the early 1200s, the stately zoo went on to house everything from elephants and tigers to kangaroos and pelicans. Learn more in the fascinating Royal Beasts exhibition at the Tower of London.

Chinatown Lions

In Chinese culture, lions are considered to be good omens – so it’s no surprise to see statues of these incredible mammals at the entrance to London’s Chinatown. Lions – specifically Lion Dances – are also a big part of the Chinese New Year Celebrations, which take place in Chinatown every February.

Trafalgar Square Lions

Designed by Sir Edward Landseer, the four bronze lions that sit on guard at the foot of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square were installed in 1867 – 24 years after the column was completed. It is said that if Big Ben chimes 13 times, the 20-foot long, 11ft-tall lions will come to life!

The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre

If you loved the Disney film, then you’ll adore the musical of The Lion King. With the help of imaginative costumes, powerful songs and colourful stage sets, the cast tell the much-loved story of Simba and his pride. Don’t miss the behind-the-scenes video (below) of this hit West End show for a chance to win a five-night trip to London!

Barbary Lion Skull at the Natural History Museum

Two lions skulls, a remnant of the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London (see above), were discovered by workmen in 1937. Experts at the National History Museum used carbon dating to age the animals and found that one was the oldest lion found in the UK since the extinction of native wild lions. You can see the skull for yourself in the Treasures exhibition at the museum’s Cadogan Gallery.

London Lions

The London Lions is the capital’s only professional basketball team – so choosing which side to support is easy if you’re a Londoner! The team’s next home fixture is on 29 December against the Newcastle Eagles at London 2012 Olympic venue The Copper Box Arena.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 

The Natural History Museum comes up trumps again with the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 exhibition – featuring an amazingly close picture of a lion cub taken in South Africa by photographer Hannes Lochner. The picture was Joint runner-up 2013 (Animal Portraits) and is one of many stunning photos on show – until 23 March 2014.

Saint Jerome and the Lion at the National Gallery

While living in the desert as a hermit, Saint Jerome in reported to have removed a thorn from the paw of a lion. This remarkable feat is the subject of a number of paintings at the National Gallery, including Bono da Ferrara’s Saint Jerome in A Landscape (circa 1440) and part of the Santa Trinità Altarpiece (1455-60).

The Lion of Kings Road

You may have seen the dramatic and moving YouTube video of a lion hugging its former owners, who had released the animal into the wild a year earlier. Amazingly, the duo bought the lion at Harrods (in 1969) and took it to live in the flat above their furniture store on the Kings Road, where it became something of a local celebrity.

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Top Accessible Attractions in London by Srin Madipalli http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/08/top-accessible-attractions-in-london-by-srin-madipalli/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/08/top-accessible-attractions-in-london-by-srin-madipalli/#comments Thu, 15 Aug 2013 13:56:42 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=35166 London resident, wheelchair user and Disability Horizons co-founder Srin Madipalli, shares his thoughts on accessible attractions in London.

EDF Energy London Eye

The London Eye is one of my favourite tourist sites in London. On a clear day or evening, you get stunning views across the city of most of the major landmarks. There were no issues driving my wheelchair into the capsule, which was step-free.

Buckingham Palace

It’s been a long time since I went to Buckingham Palace (about 10 years ago!), but I remember being able to go everywhere. There was a small delay with one of the stair lifts, which struggled to lift my very heavy powered wheelchair.

The Natural History Museum, V&A Museum and Science Museum

All three museums are right by one another in South Kensington. They are big, fascinating and insightful places that have some fantastic exhibitions. Access is generally very good, but on busy days, or for special exhibitions, working through the crowds can be a bit difficult.

Tate Modern

For those of you who are like me, and know very little about the arts, or are generally unfamiliar with anything related to modern art, the Tate Modern is perfect. It’s accessible, spacious, easy to navigate and its exhibitions are well-presented. As it is free to enter, you can wander in and out as you wish.

Tate Modern is in a great location, on London’s South Bank, right by Shakespeare’s Globe and opposite St Paul’s Cathedral, so if you get bored of the art, there are other things in the vicinity to see. There is also a really good pub right by the Tate Modern called the Founder’s Arms which overlooks the Thames. Great place to have a beer on a warm summer’s day (it is wheelchair accessible and has an accessible toilet too).

The British Museum

Another one of the big mega museums of London that is free to enter. My law school was a two minute walk from the British Museum, so when I used to have periods of free time between lectures, I sometimes went for a wander around.

While it is fully accessible, it is also one of those museums that is difficult to fully see in just a day. If time is limited, I’d recommend going to one of the special exhibitions. Like with London’s other museums, they can get really crowded on certain busy days, which can make it difficult to fully appreciate what you are seeing.

Also, just be wary that is a big museum, so if have any difficulties with fatigue or tiredness, be sure to plan your visit and identify in advance any particular exhibitions or galleries that you would prefer to visit.

Kew Gardens

One of London’s real gems, the vast expanse of Kew Gardens can be a great day out, and it is accessible. As it is more towards the edge of the city, you will need to consider transport more carefully.

I recall Kew Gardens Station being step-free, but as there would be a big step to get onto the train, I had to arrange assisted travel with South West Trains, who organised a ramp. I found the most interesting bit of Kew Gardens to be the special greenhouses, where the controlled conditions enable plant-life that usually can’t grow in a British climate. Like with the museums, Kew Gardens is pretty big – more than 300 acres in fact – so if this is likely to cause any difficulties, plan your day.

London Dungeon

I really like the London Dungeon. It is a bit cheesy, but it is a good laugh and a good way to spend a couple of hours. While accessible, some parts of the London Dungeon can be quite dark, which could make it difficult for some. I recall people in costumes and waxwork exhibits jumping out from nowhere trying to “scare” you, which I found utterly hilarious, but imagine that some people wouldn’t!

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is a tranquil and peaceful place that sits within the hustle and bustle of the busy financial district of central London known as the “Square Mile”. Once a upon a time, I used to go through the grounds of St Paul’s as short-cut on my way home. Most parts are accessible, but there are some areas that aren’t, such as the Whispering, Golden and Stone galleries, due to its age.

National Gallery and Trafalgar Square

The National Gallery is one of the smaller of London’s premier galleries, but it is still very impressive. I recently visited the National Gallery for a special collection of the works of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Again, they are both free to visit and accessible but, like all museums in London, can be a pain to make the most of when busy. Trafalgar Square, with Nelson’s Column, is one of the those must-see public squares and is within walking distance of Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade, the Houses of Parliament, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Trafalgar Square is step-free with an accessible route to the National Gallery which sits right behind it.

Shakespeare's Globe TheatreShakespeare’s Globe

I went to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on a kind of date many years ago. I strongly recommend watching a performance there. I loved the fact that I could choose to be in the wheelchair platform in the covered stands or in the open standing area near the stage. I chose to position my wheelchair in the standing area by the stage, which was exposed to the elements!

The atmosphere in the audience was a lot of fun – the pouring rain made it just that much more a novelty. The performances at The Globe are a world away from the boring and static way in which Shakespeare is taught in the classroom and watching a modernised play live with its characteristic audience participation is a really enjoyable experience.

More accessible attractions in London

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London Video of the Week: Top London Attractions for Kids by Ellie Roddy http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/08/london-video-of-the-week-top-london-attractions-for-kids-by-ellie-roddy/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/08/london-video-of-the-week-top-london-attractions-for-kids-by-ellie-roddy/#comments Fri, 02 Aug 2013 15:40:10 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=35069

Ellie Roddy visits some of London’s top tourist attractions for families: the London Dungeon, ZSL London Zoo, Sea Life London Aquarium, Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. Look out for a special guest presenter from the London Dungeon!

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London Video of the Week: A Perfect Winter’s Day in London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/12/london-video-of-the-week-a-perfect-winters-day-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/12/london-video-of-the-week-a-perfect-winters-day-in-london/#comments Fri, 07 Dec 2012 14:01:00 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=30556

Here’s a lovely video from British Airways, showing two of their cabin crew, Mark and Lucy, enjoying a perfect day in London. 

From London Heathrow Terminal 5, to the Houses of Parliament, Primrose Hill, Camden Passage, The Langham, Hamleys, Fortnum & Mason, Natural History Museum Ice Rink, and Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, they certainly enjoy a busy day. (I’m just not sure about that picnic, considering today’s temperatures are hovering around the 3°C mark.)

For more London videos, check out our YouTube channel.

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Treasures Exhibition at the Natural History Museum http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/11/treasures-exhibition-at-the-natural-history-museum/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/11/treasures-exhibition-at-the-natural-history-museum/#comments Wed, 28 Nov 2012 15:33:41 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=30371  

Fans of the Natural History Museum, rejoice, because it has just opened an exciting new permanent gallery, Treasures, which looks to be a big hitter. Curators have selected 22 extra-special objects from the museum’s vast collection, which heaves with 70 million specimens. From moon rock to a 147-million-year-old fossil, all of the specimens chosen for the gallery have fascinating stories behind them and are of “enormous scientific, historical and cultural significance”, according to museum director Dr Michael Dixon.

Following a sneaky peak of the collection, we’ve picked five of our favourite treasures:

1.    Guy the Gorilla

This stuffed ape was once one of the best-loved animals in London Zoo’s history. The western lowland gorilla first arrived at the zoo on Guy Fawkes Night 1947, hence his name. Clutching a hot water bottle, Guy was so terrified of the fireworks that he wouldn’t sleep until a keeper slept beside him. Visitors loved Guy for his gentle nature as he was known to catch small birds that flew into his enclosure, peer at them curiously and then let them go. Guy died of heart failure in 1978 after dental surgery. Taxidermist Arthur Hayward then spent nine months preparing him for display.

2.    Neanderthal skull

This 50,000-year-old specimen was the first Neanderthal skull ever discovered and has played a huge role in the study of ancient humans. “Researchers have had access to this skull for years, but this is the first time it has been on public display,” says museum researcher Chris Stringer.

3.    The world’s most expensive book

One of the best-known natural history books ever produced, Audubon‘s The Birds of America is renowned for its beautiful life-size, hand-coloured illustrations of birds. With only 120 copies in the entire world, complete bound sets can fetch a staggering £7 million. The museum is displaying a different page of the book every month to prevent fading.

4.    Barbary lion skull

Plucked from the Tower of London’s moat by two workmen in 1937, this Barbary lion is thought to have been part of the royal menagerie from around 1280-1385. “People living nearby must have been petrified to hear the lion’s roar,” says collection manager Richard Sabin.

5.    Charles Darwin’s pigeons

Bred in his garden as an experiment, Darwin‘s pigeons provided him with the evidence he needed to prove the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Treasures at the Natural History Museum opens on 30 November 2012

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