Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Natural History Museum

With the possibility of some blue sky on the horizon, we set off today to try out the Natural History Museum.  As usual, I found myself interested as much in 'the building' as in 'the contents'.  The Waterhouse Building (as it is known) was constructed in the late 1870s, specifically to house the natural history collection that had been originally part of the British Museum. 

 I love the building. On a day like today, where the sky was a beautiful blue, the two colours of stone in the building were particularly striking.  According to the webpage's description of the Waterstone building (which you can browse through here), the terracotta exterior varies between "buff and cobalt blue". Looking up, the blue stones seemed a mirror for the colour of the sky.  I kept pointing this out to the kids, and they kept replying that "you are wierd, mom... you think tree bark is interesting!"  Hmmm.   True.  Still....it was gorgeous against the blue sky.

Since I had read up a bit on the building before we headed out for the day, I knew that the design of the building included sculptures of plants and animals on the interior and exterior of the building, to represent biological diversity.  I kept trying to point out odd gargoyles, or the different snakes carved into the walls. Again, the kids seemed not quite as excited as I was.  I will admit that, in the middle of an exhibit of dinosaur skeletons, perhaps it was unsurprising that the kids didn't want to focus on little details, like the little monkeys and birds carved on the arches above us.  The dinosaur bones were a bit more compelling.  I, on the other hand, had great fun seeking out different carvings throughout! 

I had promised them that museum visits this year would occur in no more than 45 minute increments... thinking that many smaller visits might be better than exhausting single visits.  We did break that rule on this museum, and stayed closer to three hours (and Duncan had to be dragged out with promises of a return on another day).   I don't think we scratched the surface.  Tons more to see ...though I confess myself stunned that they didn't want to go see the exhibit on the sexual lives of animals.... but maybe that is just not something that the average kid wants to see WITH their parent?  :-)

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