Friday, November 03, 2006

Earth Galleries - Natural History Museum, London

Earth Galleries, part of the Natural History Museum, entrance on Exibition Road.

This photo of The Earth Galleries in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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The Earth Galleries used to be a separate museum, the Geological Museum. Though the name has changed, the focus of the Earth Galleries has remained the same – the physical Earth. The Earth Galleries have been incorporated into the Natural History Museum, and while there is an entrance at front of the Earth Galleries leading onto Exhibition Road, it is possible to access the Earth Galleries without leaving the Natural History Museum.

Either way, you are in for a treat. Follow down the labyrinths of the Natural History Museum, past fossils of aquatic dinosaurs, you enter a room filled with monolithic polished slabs of swirling granites, marbles and other things from the earth. Pause and absorb some of the shapes and colours that rival the best of artists (and win) before moving on.

Entrance to Earth GalleriesYou will then enter a large dark hall lined with cases containing samples of rocks and materials both beautiful and rare, as well as other minerals in their raw form. The hall seems to go on forever, with 4m high statues on lit pedestals at the far end. As you walk along you will become aware that an escalator ascends from the hall as if to Mount Olympus. In fact, the escalator passes through an enormous model of the earth’s crust to the upper floors. From this hall it is also possible to access Exhibition Road. If you have come to the Earth Galleries via the Natural History Museum, then do make the time to go to the top of the steps leading to Exhibition Road and look back.

Then ascend the escalator and the very centre of the earth itself. You are about to begin your earth exploration, finding out about volcanoes, have the chance to stand on a platform and experience part of an earthquake, see how the very solid ground we stand on floats like a fragile sheet on a very hot and turbulent masses of magma. (You may have guessed by now that I really like this museum.). Learn about plate tectonics, a relatively new science, and see why the earth sometimes shakes, rattles and rolls.

The nearest tube is South Kensington. The Earth Galleries street entrance is just before the Science Museum, and a side entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum is over the road.

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The full panoramic image taken of the Earth Galleries from Exhibition Road can be found on the London tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

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