Thanks to architects at Niall McLaughlin Architects and landscapers Kim Wilkie, London’s Natural History Museum is expected to have a few new features. With the planning permission granted this year, the museum is currently in the fundraising stage and aims to complete the project by 2020.
The introductions will enhance the museum’s access, grounds and wildlife garden starting with the entrance, the Square. Set to be a more enjoyable space, where visitors can gather and relax, the changes will stretch onto the Eastern Grounds. The Eastern Grounds will feature a new bronze cast of a diplodocus as well as a geological timeline of the Earth’s evolution complete with intricate landscaping. The bronze cast is not the same as the ‘Dippy the Diplodocus’ signature that currently sits in the Museum’s central hall — it will leave the museum in 2017 to go on a UK tour in 2018.
The Western Grounds are set to be expanded and will see the Wildlife Garden double in size and three quarters of its current iteration set amidst the urban greenery. While London’s Museum of Natural History opened its doors to the public in April 1881, its origins stretch back at least a century prior. The initial concept for the space was drawn up and proposed by Sir Hans Sloane. The high society doctor was an avid traveler and collected natural history specimens.
Upon his death in 1753, Sloane’s will allowed for the British Parliament to purchase his 71,000-item collection which they then agreed to house and display in a museum. The British museum, which was specially built for this purpose, later added findings from Victorian explorers to its collection from new species of exotic animals and plants from the British Empire. The Romanesque structure is attributed to Alfred Waterhouse, who used terracotta as a key material due to its resilience in harsh climates.
Until 1963, The Natural History Museum remained a part of the British Museum after which it officially received its current name in 1992. “With over 5 million visitors every year, we have an incredible opportunity – and responsibility – to inspire many more people to learn about nature,” the museum spokesperson said in a statement. “We believe the plans will do just that, all the way around the museum rather than in just one corner.”