The Natural History Museum has been voted one of the seven wonders of London by Time Out magazine.
Time Out describes the Museum as a stunning cathedral dedicated to the natural world, where botanists, zoologists, palaeontologists and mineralogists are constantly pushing the boundaries in their fields of work.
The article highlights the importance of the Museum's collections, which are among the largest and most comprehensive scientific collections in the world. Of great historical importance, the collections are essential for the work of scientists globally.
70 million specimens are looked after at the Museum and the public can see everything from a giant squid to a model of a blue whale, a gold nugget to a Martian meteorite, and tiny lichen to flesh-eating beetles.
Among the specimens and items collected over the last 400 years are Darwin's finches and Alfred Russell Wallace's notes and letters. There are also many type specimens, which are the unique specimens used to represent a species.
More than 300 scientists work at the Museum where among other things they help solve problems in agricultural, medical and forensic science.
The Museum was created from the private collection of British physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753). He left it to the nation and it became part of the British Museum in 1759.
Alfred Waterhouse designed the iconic building, which began housing collections in 1883. The walls are covered, inside and out, with a menagerie of terracotta animals and plants. Look up and you will see monkeys and fossilized trees in the Central Hall. On the outside of the building there are statues of extinct animals and plants on the east side whereas living animals and plants reside on the west side.
The newest addition to the building is the Darwin Centre, which provides world-class storage for precious collections, new laboratories and behind-the-scenes access for visitors. In 2009, Phase Two of the Darwin Centre opens. It will house 28 million insects and 6 million plants as well as the scientists who look after them, and it will continue and enhance the interactive and behind-the-scenes experience for visitors.
The permanent galleries get a new addition this week with the opening of The Vault. Filled with unique gems, crystals, metals and meteorites, these treasures are displayed along with the fascinating stories behind them.
Over 3.8 million visitors keep the Natural History Museum as one of the most popular attractions in the country, where it continues in its aim to educate and inspire visitors and scientists with the wonders of the natural world.
Meet the scientists face to face in free daily topical discussions exploring all topics of the natural world.