I think we just went somewhere touristy in London for the last time until September – holy crowds! The difference between the Natural History Museum when we visited in November to two weekends ago was astonishing. By mid-afternoon it felt like we were being shuffled through like livestock – I half expected museum employees to be holding cattle prods! The deluge of people made it difficult to actually see much of anything, so we cut our day short, but luckily still had time to check out the remaining two zones inside the museum that we hadn’t yet seen on our other visits.
We arrived only half an hour after the museum opened, but already there were long lines of people standing at the front to get in. Luckily, right before we joined the queue, an employee started alerting people that we could enter through the back of the museum on Exhibition Road. I had no idea visitors were even allowed to enter that way, but if we ever return, I’m definitely making use of that little bit of information again! Even better, this entrance welcomed us straight into one of the unexplored territories we were planning to check out that day – the Red Zone.
The Red Zone is all about Planet Earth and, appropriately, it all begins with a ride into the core of our precious planet. Not to make you prematurely click away, but this was my favorite part of the whole Red Zone. There would be cool things to see and do later, but nothing quite as unique as this. If it hadn’t been so crowded by the time we finished making our way through the exhibitions, I’d have ridden up through it again!
The first thing we did was hit the newly reopened Volcanoes & Earthquakes exhibition. This is definitely the most popular part of the Red Zone, so I’m glad we saw this section first. It meant we got to ride the earthquake simulator twice! (Someone was happy about that – can you guess who?)
The simulator recreates what it would have been like to experience the Great Hanshin earthquake from inside a convenience store in Kobe, Japan. A TV screen played actual footage while the lights flickered on and off and the ground underneath our feet shook and tossed the shelves around. The simulator lasts about 20 seconds, the length of the actual earthquake. Definitely worth a second go if you didn’t get the full experience the first time.
After that we hit the Restless Surface exhibition (rock formations) before making our way down a level to the From The Beginning gallery (Earth’s evolution). I’m not going to lie to you, I felt like I was back in college at my Geology night class again. I struggled to stay awake through chapters about Earth’s formation then, and I still do now. I’m more of a see-things than read-things person at museums, so this area was a bit boring for me. However, I did see quite a few people intently reading the information provided in here, which means this is probably a pretty cool exhibition if you’re into this kind of thing.
Next we headed over to Earth’s Treasury which we found quite a bit more interesting than the previous two sections. Tons of precious stones and unique rocks are displayed in cases throughout this small museum. Lex and I did what we always do when there are cases of pretty things to look at – we picked our favorite out of each and every case. We’ve played this little “game” since she was tiny, and I love that she still enjoys doing it.
All that was left to see after the treasury was a completely under-appreciated exhibition called Earth Today and Tomorrow. I love anything that is trying to help bring awareness to the importance of taking care of our planet and living more sustainably. Sadly, this was the only spot in the whole museum that wasn’t crowded. I’m hoping it was because this section was sort of tucked away from everything else on the ground floor, and not because people just don’t care. (Because that would be sad!)