Museum of Natural History
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Museum of Natural History information
Dusty, weird and utterly compelling, this window into Victorian times has barely changed since Scottish explorer Dr David Livingstone opened it in 1857 (before disappearing into the African jungle). The creaky-floored interior is crammed with some two million stuffed animals, skeletons, fossils and other specimens from around the world, ranging from West African apes to pickled insects in jars. Some are free-standing, others behind glass, but everywhere you turn the animals of the 'dead zoo' are still and staring.
Compared to the multimedia this and interactive that of virtually every modern museum, this is a beautifully preserved example of Victorian charm and scientific wonderment. It is usually full of fascinated kids, but it's the adults who seem to make the most noise as they ricochet like pinballs between displays. The Irish Room on the ground floor is filled with mammals, sea creatures, birds and some butterflies all found in Ireland at some point, including the skeletons of three 10,000-year-old Irish elk that greet you as you enter. The World Animals Collection , spread across three levels, has as its centrepiece the skeleton of a 20m-long fin whale found beached in County Sligo. Evolutionists will love the line-up of orang-utan, chimpanzee, gorilla and human skeletons on the 1st floor. A new addition here is the Discovery Zone , where visitors can do some first-hand exploring of their own, handling taxidermy and opening drawers. Other notables include the Tasmanian tiger (an extinct Australian marsupial, mislabelled as a Tasmanian wolf), a giant panda from China, and several African and Asian rhinoceroses. The wonderful Blaschka Collection comprises finely detailed glass models of marine creatures whose zoological accuracy is incomparable.