London has a rich history that dates back to the Roman settlements in 43 A.D. Since then it has been an epicentre for the arts, education, entertainment, commerce and the sciences. Over the centuries, as a leading city, London developed as a hub and it is no wonder that many of the scientific achievements and important names – such as Sir Isaac Newton, Alexander Fleming, Elias Ashmole (founder of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum), Joseph Lister and Charles Darwin – all called the city home at some point.
If you visit London on an educational trip to explore the scientific elements of the city, you can visit the places where these (and many other) famous scientists lived and worked. But taking time out to see the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum in London is the best way to explore the scientific history of the city [and country] while visiting on an educational trip.
Natural History Museum
As one of the three large museums that face onto Cromwell Road, you cannot miss the stunning and imposing architecture of the Natural History Museum as you draw near. The founding collection for the museum was that which belonged to Sir Hans Sloane, whose significant artworks were purchased by the British government in the 18th century. The early collection was housed in Montegue House, until the current building was built by Alfred Waterhouse [in a Romanesque style]. The building was completed in 1880 and today is home to some 70 million items housed within the five main collections.
A visit to the Natural History Museum can easily take days, but on an educational trip time may be limited. By narrowing it down to the collections of Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology, you will have a better chance to see and study the things that interest your group the most. Without a doubt, the most famous exhibitions at the museum are of the dinosaur skeletons and casts, which sit nicely within the cathedral-like, ornate architecture. Particularly memorable is the large cast of the Diplodocus, which dominates the main hall.
The Science Museum
If you have had time to peruse the massive collection at the Natural History Museum and are still eager to make the most of the scientific element on an educational trip to London, head over to the Science Museum, located very near to the Natural History Museum.
Founded in 1857 by Bennet Woodcroft as a compilation of various other museums and collections, the Science Museum can now boast over 300,000 pieces, many of which are famous in the world of science and beyond. Some of the most important objects the museum holds are the oldest surviving steam locomotive, the first jet engine, a model of Crick and Watson’s DNA strand, a floor of medical history, and documentation of the first typewriter. In addition to the exhibits, the museum has many interactive elements and areas that encourage students to get involved, as well as an IMAX 3D theatre showing documentaries.