Thursday, 3 January 2013

Terror in the midst of splendour

Yesterday I took my son to visit the National History Museum in London together with my parents.

For those of you who don't know, this is essentially a chance to see a whole load of fantastic dinosaur exhibits in a Romanesque setting. The word "dinosaur", my son knowledgeably informs me, means terrible lizard, and he freely admitted to being terrified by the life-size animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex. The dinosaur section was completely overrun with small boys (parents in tow). Tip: definitely see the dinosaurs first, before the queues to enter that section get too long.

The architecture is splendid (German Romanesque), and the museum cafe is one of the best I've ever been to - worth a visit just for that.

Terrible lizard, splendid architecture
As well as the famous dinosaurs there are loads of other really great sections. We visited the Ecology/Earth sections, which explain important concepts (many of which I struggled to understand as a teenager) in a way accessible even to my non-reading, four-year-old son. I'm not saying he acquired a deep understanding of biological principles, but he understood it on his own level when I talked some of the exhibits through with him. And I learnt things too!

Lastly, we spent a long time in the cetacean gallery (=whales and dolphins), finding out more about these incredible animals, many of which are highly vulnerable or endangered species, and listening to recordings of the sounds they make to communicate with one another. Fascinating, sad, moving, unmissable.

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