Lonely Planet Writer

London's Natural History Museum will get a stunning upgrade

The Natural History Museum in London will be even more attractive to visitors now that it has won planning permission for a major upgrade that includes a subterranean cloister, a wildlife garden and a public plaza.

A rendering of the new grounds at London’s Natural History Museum. Image: Niall McLaughlin Architects
A rendering of the new grounds at London’s Natural History Museum. Image: Niall McLaughlin Architects

The attraction welcomes five million visitors annually and is the the UK’s third-most-frequented museum. Admission is free and it exhibits a vast range of life and earth science specimens from various segments of natural history. It’s home to 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology.

The newly landscaped grounds of London's Natural History Museum will feature the bronze cast of a Diplodocus dinosaur that has been inside the museum’s entrance hall for the past 30 years. Image: Natural History Museum
The newly landscaped grounds of London’s Natural History Museum will feature the bronze cast of a Diplodocus dinosaur that has been inside the museum’s entrance hall for the past 30 years. Image: Natural History Museum

Niall McLaughlin Architects and landscape designer Kim Wilkie won a competition to re-imagine the entrance grounds of the museum and create a new civic public realm. This will also provide an improved experience for disabled visitors.

“Our proposal incorporates a new public garden square at the corner of Exhibition Road and Cromwell Road, with a campanile, announcing the presence of the museum at this important junction,” explains Niall McLaughlin Architects. “The base of the tower forms a new entrance to the museum that is accessed directly from the tunnel connecting back to the tube station. A new east-west promenade within the railings enclosing the museum re-instates the view of Waterhouse’s beautifully zoomorphic south facade, with a contemporary urban garden exploring ‘future nature’ laid out at the western end.”

A rendering of the new entrance to London’s Natural History Museum. Image: Niall McLaughlin Architects
A rendering of the new entrance to London’s Natural History Museum. Image: Niall McLaughlin Architects

“We intend that the east-west sequence story, from geology and paleontology through to future nature, encapsulated within the museum, will now be given public expression in the newly configured gardens of the exterior setting,” they add, explaining that it is hoped that the project will be completed by 2020.

The newly landscaped grounds of London's Natural History Museum will feature the bronze cast of a Diplodocus dinosaur that has been inside the museum’s entrance hall for the past 30 years. Image: Niall McLaughlin Architects
The newly landscaped grounds of London’s Natural History Museum will feature the bronze cast of a Diplodocus dinosaur that has been inside the museum’s entrance hall for the past 30 years. Image: Niall McLaughlin Architects

This plan includes the bronze cast of a Diplodocus dinosaur that has been inside the museum’s entrance hall for the past 30 years being moved outside to the grounds. For further information on the museum, see here.