A Day at London’s Natural History Museum


More from sci-fi writer and Kenyon College microbiology professor, Joan Slonczewski:

Ultraphyte

1_NHMThe most amazing experience I had in London was visiting the Natural History Museum. Built in 1881–just a few years after Darwin’s Origin of Species–this extraordinary building (by Alfred Waterhouse) intended to represent a “cathedral of nature.” The columns of this ornate building purposely differ in style, representing the diversity of natural life. Animals of all different species perch upon the windows.

2_NHM_Detail

The animals exhibit “natural” behaviors–the lion (above, center) is entwined by a python. Inside the vast edifice (below) amid zig-zagging stairs out of Hogwarts, monkeys climb the arch.

3_Monkeys

Above all the exhibits and thousands of visitors, the cathedral ceiling represents the most important of life forms: all different kinds of plants.

4_Ceiling

Darwin gets his statue, which visitors crowd to share his photograph.

5_Darwin

Darwin also gives his name to the Darwin Centre, the super modern laboratory (2009) next door. This laboratory actually faces the visitors’ gallery, where the public can…

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