This is great news if you are a kid, dinosaur fan or a T-Rex! Opening April 22 and running through September 4th in London, the Natural History Museum’s big exhibit is The Age of Dinosaurs. The exhibit tries to recreate what the world looked like 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs ruled the earth. By making elaborate background and animatronic dinosaurs, you’ll feel like you are actually walking among the dinosaurs during their own time.
The Natural History Museum has a long history with dinosaurs. In fact, its first director, paleontologist Richard Owen, coined the term ‘dinosaurs.’ In the main hall is a 105-foot long diplodocus, known affectionately as ‘Dippy,’ which debuted in 1905 to huge crowds. The dinosaur hall is the most popular attraction at the museum, drawing young and old to see skeletons of Triceratops, Albertosaurus, Stegosaurus and many other dinosaurs.
The Museum of Natural History, located in the neighborhood of Knightsbridge in London, was finished in 1880 and the building itself is an architectural marvel. With a huge collection, its well worth a visit for a day or two.
But before animatronic dinosaurs, there was the Dinosaur Court at Crystal Palace Park.
Unveiled in 1854, the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park were the first ever life-size reproductions dinosaurs. Famously in 1853, a dinner party was held in a mold of the Iguanodon.
Sculpted out of stone and concrete by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins under the guidance of Richard Owen, they’re placed on different islands and in the water, giving them the look of a natural habitat. There are 15 different species in the park today.
As time and scientific understanding progressed, the statues were discovered to be inaccurate. By the turn of the 20th century, they were ridiculed for their appearance. By the 1950s, the park was in disrepair. For a while, the only way into the park was for a guided tour of the dinosaurs.
But today they are a fascinating look at the Victorian era and the rapid advancements in science. It’s easy to imagine children from 150 years ago being in awe of these prehistoric giants, which they’d see for scale for the first time, in a sense the “Jurassic Park” of the 1800s. And today the park is beautiful. The dinosaurs are laid out in a very easy way to navigate and are beautifully renovated, being listed as Grade I in 2002.
Hawkins was commissioned to make dinosaurs for a prehistoric museum in New York – until Boss Tweed has a disagreement with the project and had his supporters smash the sculptures and bury them in Central Park. They’ve never been discovered. But Hawkins Crystal Palace dinosaurs entered pop culture lore and are a must-see for dinosaur fans.
If you make the trip out to Crystal Palace Park, you’ll see more than just dinosaurs. You’ll find people playing soccer on the 200 acre park, can pick up my favorite treat, ice cream with a Flake in it, and visit the site of where the Crystal Palace was moved (all that remains is a reproduction pane of glass). But the dinosaurs are the stars of the park.
Whether you’re keen on dinosaurs or you just like cool museums, now is a great time to head to London. Here are some great Knightsbridge apartments, as well as London accommodation options to consider.
This studio furnished rental in Kensington, London (LN-972) is seemingly the length of a diplodocus away from the Museum of Natural History. Located in four blocks from the South Kensington Tube station and steps from the museum, this studio has everything you’d need to get to explore the museum over a couple months.
Just South of Oxford Street in London’s main shopping street, is this two bedroom vacation rental in Soho, London (LN-334). From Oxford Street it’s easy to hop on one of the iconic red double-decker buses and take the number 3 bus to Crystal Palace. The apartment is in the most central of Central London locations, and the Natural History Museum is a short five stops on the Tube away.
Let us know your favorite dinosaur exhibit when you return from your summer trip to London!