Collecting, Exploring, Inventing Part II

I’ve dealt with the Inventing part previously. Now for the Collecting. We love collecting things, us Brits. Stamps, coins, medals, butterflies, empires. You name it, we’ll get one of each, kill it, preserve it, put it in a jar and display it. We even build monumental institutions to show them off. Kew Gardens contains millions of species of plant from every corner of the globe. The British Museum has nearly six million exhibits of man made artifacts from every civilisation since the year dot. But perhaps the most impressive collection in Britain, if not the world, belongs to the Natural History Museum.

The NHM started life as a department of the British Museum, and it was called the British Museum (Natural History) up until the early 90’s. It contains an astounding 70,000,000 specimens of fossils, rocks, meteorites, skeletons and body parts. The building itself is a Victorian masterpiece that is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve never taken a photo of the exterior which does it justice, but there are plenty to be found on Google which have captured its majesty. I did capture a few interior and exterior photos during my visit last week though – Google+ or Flickr.

There is one part of the NHM which is truly my favourite though. It isn’t the most popular part of the museum. Not its most famous. But it sums up the obsessive British attitude to collecting. It contains rocks and minerals. Thousand upon thousand of them. All of them carefully labelled, categorised and displayed in gleaming glass lidded cases.  The room itself is bigger than some museum I have been in. It’s glorious. Don’t walk past it when you next visit.

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