Exhibition mooching: How not to be a tourist

Going to one of the big tourist attractions on the August Bank Holiday weekend might not seem like the smartest idea on paper, but it worked out really well, especially when you go VIP!

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It was a very wet day in London, but this didn’t stop us.

I went with Gemma, Matt and Ciara. Going with a friend who is a Natural History Museum employee gave us lots of perks. I felt slightly sheepish when walking past the two-hour long queue of tourists who were waiting in the rain with their children to get into the museum. But, as it was raining and I’m a diva, I quite enjoyed being escorted to the front of the queue and ushered inside where it was dry.

Inside, we had a private tour, and we also got into two of the exhibitions for free. The first one was Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story. There were a few bones and skulls hanging around, and lots of rocks that had once been sharpened to use as axes. We also learnt about the ice age and the evolution of the human race. Deep stuff.

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Me and Ciara sporting our rain make-overs

We then went into the Mammoths: Ice Age Giants exhibition, where believe it or not, we saw a real mammoth. The mammoth had fallen into the sea bed and choked on sediment and drowned, but then due to temperature changes it was effectively mummified, and then used for scientific studies. The slightly shrivelled (and much smaller than you would imagine) mammoth was on display in the exhibition – what a rare treat. Unfortunately, photos were banned, and so I couldn’t capture this moment for you to see.

I don’t know where these specimens in jars were – they’re a bit creepy.

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One of my favourite exhibitions was in The Vault, which is where they keep all the sparkly gemstones and jewels. There was almost too much to look at, but some of the rocks were very impressive.

Special rocks

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The Vault

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Which one is your favourite?

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Shine bright like a diamond

Lastly, we headed outside to see Sensational Butterflies. I’m never sure whether I like butterflies or not – I like the wings, but their fuzzy body in the centre creeps me out a bit. It was fun to see them flying around, and there were loads of caterpillars chilling out on the leaves and waiting to develop wings.

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Baby butterflies

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Butterfly watching

We only spent a few hours mooching around the museum, and being able to go in the staff-only areas and taking the shortcut passages to skip the crowds really helped. The museum is HUGE – so knowing we weren’t lost was a relief.

My advice is, if you go to the Natural History Museum, definitely take a staff member with you.

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