Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is the largest natural history collection in the world, with over 70 million specimens, based on the Cromwell Road in South Kensington. It originated with the collection of natural curiosities left to the nation by Sir Hans Sloane in 1753. This at first formed part of the British Museum but as other collections were added the government agreed to fund a purpose-built home that was designed in German Romanesque style by Alfred Waterhouse (1830–1905) and opened in 1881.
The neighbouring Geological Museum, on Exhibition Road, merged with the Natural History Museum in 1985 and is now referred to as the museum’s ‘Red Zone’. The Darwin Centre is a newly built extension to the NHM that serves as a research centre and houses 20 million insect and plant specimens. Its showpiece is a public viewing gallery that takes the form of an eight-storey cocoon in its atrium.