Night at the Museum

Last week I visited the Natural History Museum for their annual Science Uncovered event. If you haven't been or haven't heard about it then jot this down, it's really worth it.

You spend the evening attending talks, interviews and demonstrations by researchers.  A lot of people don't know that NHM is a working research centre, behind the scenes their collection of preserved plants and animals is estimated to hold 80 million specimens. Estimated? Yep, no one knows for sure.

The highlight of the evening for me was the Stars in Jars tour. You're shown around some of the specimen rooms by a very bubbly and enthusiastic guide. Thanks Katie!

Two things stood out, one gross, the other exciting. First the gross one, a giant squid preserved in formaldehyde (pictured), not a good looking (nor good smelling, apparently,) fellow but quite a thing to behold. 

The exciting one? A collection of specimens collected by Charles Darwin himself on the famous voyage of the Beagle. Darwin is reputed to have eaten some of the interesting species that he studied, fortunately the museum's specimens are reassuringly whole.

You don't have to wait until next year; the behind the scenes tour is available all the time. Highly recommended.