THATMuse

As soon as you set foot inside the Natural History Museum, you are greeted by some of the collection’s most amazing skeletons. Depending on which entrance you use, you will be met by one of two Natural History Museum highlights: Hope the blue whale, or Sophie the stegosaurus. Both are remarkably complete specimens that have allowed us to learn a huge amount about how they once lived. 

Hope: the Natural History Museum Whale

Hope is the new centerpiece of Hintze Hall, the grand hall at the heart of the Natural History Museum. This was spot was previously held by the beloved Dippy the Diplodocus, who was installed in 1979. Dippy greeted generations of visitors to the Natural History Museum. But, after a last farewell tour of the UK in October 2020, she was due for retirement.  

The Natural History Museum's Whale Skeleton, Hope
Hope, the Natural History Museum’s Blue Whale Skeleton. Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

Hope was unveiled on July 14th, 2017. She is suspended from the ceiling, mouth gaping wide as if swimming down to swallow up anyone walking through the front doors. Hope’s name is a symbol for our ability to protect the environment in the future. Whales as a species were almost hunted to extinction before concentrated human effort began to put their numbers on the rise again. Thus; Hope.  

What do we know about Hope?

She is a real skeleton taken from a young female blue whale that beached in Ireland in 1891. Although some whales live to be 100 years old, Hope may have been only 15 years old when she died. Despite her youth, she measures an incredible 25.2m, and her bones alone weigh 4.5 tonnes. Just imagine how much she must have weighed when she was alive! Blue Whales are the largest creatures to have ever lived on our planet, even bigger than any dinosaur or prehistoric creature. 

Museum scientists have been able to work out Hope’s likely behaviour and travels by studying chemicals left behind in her baleen plates. Like your hair and nails, a whale’s baleen plates are made of keratin. Unlike any part of you though, their job is to filter out plankton from the seawater for the whale to eat. This means that unlike other mammals, whales don’t need to have teeth. Amazingly, scientists can also study whale ear wax to discover their age and hormone levels. Imagine your whole life dedicated to studying massive plugs of ear wax! It must be disgusting work — but important.

Sophie: One of the Natural History Museum’s Most Famous Dinosaurs

At the other entrance to the museum on Exhibition Road, you enter into the old Royal Geological Society building, where you’re greeted by Sophie the Stegosaurus. Found in Wyoming in the United States in 2004, this skeleton is by far the most complete one of its kind ever found.

Sophie, one of the Natural History Museum's most complete Dinosaur Skeletons
Sophie the Stegosaurus, a highlight of the Natural History Museum’s collection. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Sophie’s bones are remarkably preserved in their original form, not crushed flat by millions of years of earth’s pressure. This means that the museum scientists have been able to 3D model and scan the whole skeleton to get an amazing picture of how Sophie could have moved. In truth, we have no way of knowing whether Sophie was female or male as no soft tissue survives. She gets her name from the daughter of the donor whose gift allowed the museum to buy this amazing piece!

These two skeletons are without a doubt some of the highlights of the Natural History Museum’s collection. However, since we’re talking about a museum with some 80 million specimens, there’s plenty more to see! Feeling overwhelmed and unsure about what to see at the Natural History Museum? A Natural History Museum treasure hunt with THATMuse will take you to the highlights of the collection, while injecting a bit of fun and competition for good measure.

If you can’t get there right now, check out the Natural History Museum category on our blog. We have plenty of posts about Natural History Museum highlights to keep you going!

Our THATMuse Dinosaur and Extinct beasts Treasure Hunt focus on the incredible treasures inside the Natural History Museum’s 80 million strong collection, but this blog contains 7 fascinating facts about the natural history museum building itself.  
 

1. Founder Richard Owen invented the word Dinosaur

Sir Richard Owen was a world-famous naturalist and the man who created the term ‘dinosaur’. He took three unusual fossils and realised they were all of a kind: Megalosauraus, Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus. When put in charge of Britain’s natural history collection he decided they needed a new home outside the British Museum. He set out to purpose build the perfect building to house the wonders of the natural world.  

2. It was built from terracotta so it wouldn’t be stained by the Victorian smog. 

Eventually Alfred Waterhouse, a relatively unknown young architect from Liverpool was given the job and he set out plans for a ‘Cathedral to Nature’ as it would soon be nicknamed. Waterhouse used terracotta to decorate the building as it was quicker and cheaper to carve, and it would be less affected by Victorian London’s sooty, smoky atmosphere. Others were being stained black by the smog! 

3. Every surface in Hintze hall is crawling with life! 

Under Owen’s guidance Waterhouse created a huge central space in the style of a cathedral, now named Hintze Hall.  This space was deliberately big enough to house the biggest pieces in the collection, from diplodocuses to blue whales!  Almost every surface in Hintze hall is adorned with scenes from the natural world. Monkeys climb the arches. Woodland critters cuddle the corner columns. The ceiling is decorated with real plants and their scientific names, from beautiful flowers to cocoa and tea. 

4. The outside is covered in gargoyles, from lions to pterodactyls.  

Even the outside of the building is decorated! Terracotta gargoyles loom off the façade. On the East wing, next to exhibition road and the V&A Museum you can see Pterodactyls and saber-toothed tigers perched outside windows and roaring from the rooftop. On the West wing nearer the museum’s wildlife garden you can instead see wolves, lions and kangaroos watching over the London streets. 

5. It was designed to disagree with Darwin 

It was by Owen’s decree the east wing is decorated entirely with extinct creatures, and the west entirely with living species. The museum was built as Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was gaining prominence and revealing the connections extinct species have to our modern ones. Owen however disproved of Darwin’s removal of God as the true creator of our living species. He agreed with the science, he could see the evidence of species evolving but believed it all began with God. So he build a huge cathedral in between the living and the extinct wings to show gods role at the heart of the natural world.  

6. Some animals are now on the wrong side of the building 

There have been many changes to the environment of our world over the last 150 years. So there are now two animals on the wrong sides of the building. The passenger pigeon used to fly over North America in flocks of millions. But thanks to human expansion by 1914 there was just one left, called Martha in San Diego Zoo. Carved into the living side, it should now be with the pterodactyls and other extinct animals. The opposite is true of the coelacanth. A fish thought extinct for 66 million years until in 1938 a fisherman caught one off the coast of South Africa! This is known as a Lazarus Taxon: species that have risen from the dead.  

7. A giant cocoon houses the new Darwin Centre 

The newest part of the building is the Darwin Centre. Comprising several buildings, the most interesting is the Cocoon containing the UK Diodiversity lab. It is also home to the Entomology department studying the museum’s bugs. 28 million specimens had to be carefully moved from the old building to the new. There is also the Zoology Spirit collection which has 22 million animal specimens preserved in jars of alcoholic spirit. The biggest is a 9m long Giant Squid! 

If you enjoyed these facts about the Natural History Museum, book a Dinosaur and Extinct Beasts treasure hunt and go exploring with family or friends! 

Introducing our London KidPack!

We are very excited to announce the arrival of our new London KidPack! Joining our ever-successful Paris KidPack, it is full of fun activities, puzzles and creative fun. Add one as a bonus after a family treasure hunt at any of our three London museums, and keep the discovery going!

Learn how to write in Egyptian hieroglyphics with the Rosetta Stone, decorate your own Sutton Hoo Helmet with Norse warriors and gods and spot the differences with Shiva; Destroyer and Lord of the Dance!

We’re rolling it out this winter to celebrate our Public Easter Hunts in London. Discover a unique Easter Egg hunt at the Natural History Museum and search for eggs from creatures great and small, from Dinosaurs to platypuses on Sat 28th March. Can you beat our tricera-top score?! 
Or celebrate a world of festivities at the V&A on Sat 11th April. Don your Easter bonnet to hunt for Britain’s burning Guy Fawkes and treasures of China’s Lunar New Year.  

Young girl posing as Degas's ballet dancer sculpture at musee d'orsay

Keep an eye out on our blog, the first Tuesday of every month for our THATKid Tuesdays project. Each day we’ll reveal another KidPack page and use it to learn about art history and the museum collections!

Find all our Public hunts at Eventbrite or book a hunt at any of our five museums across London and Paris including the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and British Museum, and coming soon in FLORENCE!  

Give the gift of treasure hunting!

Looking for a special gift for a special person? Have friends or family going to London or Paris at Easter, this summer or who may live there? Why not offer up a museum treasure hunt, making explorers of them for some maverick museum fun!


All of our Treasure Hunts are now available for purchase as Gift Certificates!

Simply send us a message on our Contact Us page. If you provide us with the information needed (The museum if decided, names of the gift giver & recipient, a message and of course their email address), we will put together an email for you or us to send them all they need to set up their THATMuse! We do not send out physical certificates, as we have had trouble with them reliably arriving to the intended in good condition or at all…  

· Gift Certificates are valid for up to six people. 

· We require at least 48 hours’ notice.

· The gift certificate has a three month expiry from the date of purchase, and it is the recipient’s responsibility to get in touch with THATMuse to book a specific date and time.  Specific dates and times are subject to availability. It is best to request a range of dates/times to find one that best suits our availability and the recipient’s choice.  

PRICES/TYPES OF HUNT:   

– A Luxe hunt for families of 6 or fewer (if families are smaller they are welcomed to invite friends to consist of a 6-person booking) costs £300/3 hours. This covers the organisation & materials (team packs with clipboards, the hunts, highlighted maps, pencils, as well of course as weighty medals for the winning team and teasing poke prizes for the 2nd place team). During the 3 hours the THATMuse Rep briefs teams on the hunt, shows them how to strategize and orients them to the museum’s layout; whilst playing we prowl about after them to spot check no cheating and maybe throw help on bonus questions. Then we all regroup for score tallying and prize-giving (which can be organized at a nearby café/pub or within the museum depending on client plans).   

– A budget version also exists where you are not met at the end of the hunt. 

SECURING YOUR BOOKING: When everything’s been set, we’ll send you an invoice payable by credit card online. Please note, no booking is secured until we’ve received this payment. Upon Payment we will send you our finished Gift Certificate to the recipient, with you in copy. Alternatively, if you prefer to give the gift in person, we can send you the PDF of the Gift Certificate to print and let them contact us with a set of proposed dates.  

Napoleon courtyard of the Louvre museum at night time, with Ieoh Ming Pei’s pyramid in the middle.

GIRAFFE START & FINISH POINT

You’ll meet your THATMuse Rep at the Giraffes in the main Hintze Hall. They will have a white canvas THATMuse tote and prior to your hunt their name and contact details will be emailed to you.

Hintze Hall in the Natural History Museum London with giraffes and blue whale skeleton
Meet at the Giraffes on the left!

TOOLS

Freshly charged batteries in your phones/cameras (per team) & comfy shoes.


Your THATMuse Mission

Photo your team in front of as many pieces of Treasure as possible within the given amount of time (90 minutes to 2 hours)!
However, with careful reading you could pick up bonus THATMuse points. There are several ways to do this. Our bonus questions fall into three key categories: –
Scrutiny (looking more carefully at the piece or surrounding rooms) Silliness (willing to trot like a Tang horse for bonus points?)
Knowledge (All of these questions can be answered within another piece of treasure text, within the hunt) There are also a variety of more artistic challenges & Letter Scrambles spelling out your prize treasure with THATMuse Letters embedded in the text!
We’ve intentionally provided more treasure text & fun than you could read about within the given time in the hope that you’ll want to return or extend your visit (& to ensure strategy!)


RULES

  1. Teams must stay together, must not run, jump or shout & of course NO NO NO TOUCHING anything…
  2. No external help… If seen speaking to a tourist-in-the-know or staffer you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no googling Marsupials, no GPS-ing where fossilized skin is, no phoning your geologist Aunt for help!
  3. Please be sure you have one (1) Master Copy with all the answers and only use one (1) camera/phone (to facilitate score tallying). In respect to Museum policy please mute your phones & no flash photography
  4. Must meet back at end point (same as Starting point) at the precise time agreed. Each minute late merits 10 negative points — that’s 10 pts debited! — per minute (!!) Sometimes there are strategical reasons to be late, but attention: if you’re more than 10 mins late you’re ousted, eliminated, no point in coming back… Ouch!

Please note, you can answer bonus questions without having found the relevant treasure, as it proves you’ve read the treasure text (& will hopefully want to return to find it after your hunt or another day; our very goal is to extend your visit and plant the seed to want to return!).

Discussing team break ups (often a 4-person family will break into two teams, one parent and one child per team) before your hunt can drum up excitement and anticipation. For a leg up on some treasure, see our THATNat category on the blog.  Morsels like Human or Ape? Or Rock or Bone or Bird or Dinosaur? May just have answers to bonus questions embedded in your text!

For a sneak peek, check out this video of THATNat at the Natural History Museum:

By Halle Trang

It might come as no surprise to you that museums are very popular locations to film in. Some of the greatest museum halls in London and Paris act as great backdrops for action scenes, and the actual art pieces provide amazing visual appeal in music videos. We scoured the internet to find movie clips and music videos that were filmed in the very museums we host treasure hunts in. Keep reading below to find out which movies were filmed in the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, British Museum, Natural History Museum, and the V&A!

JEAN-LUC GODARD’S BANDE A PART (1964)

Louvre, 40-second movie clip

This short clip comes from Jean-Luc Godard’s Bande á Part, which shows three naughty New Wave teens in the 60s, running through the venerable halls of the Louvre. How different the museum looked back then! Do you recognise the rooms they’re racing through or the Daru stairs they’re tumbling down? Can you imagine the stairs being as empty today?

THE CARTERS’S “APES**T” (2018)

Louvre, 6-minute music video

This is a 6-minute music video by Beyonce and Jay-Z in the Louvre taken place in the Denon & Sully wings at night. Please note there are many expletives in this song, so you may want to view before sharing it with your children. I show it to my kids every time we visit, quizzing them on naming the painters, dates, periods and titles of the works that appear (from Venus de Milo to Gericault’s Raft of Medusa and the Great Sphinx of Tanis), but completely understand if you want to edit this due to the swear words.

MARTIN SCORSESE’S HUGO (2011)

Musee d’Orsay, 1-minute movie clip of opening scene

Although it was once a train station, the Musee d’Orsay has now been transformed into the wonderful museum that it is. It is most commonly known for its clocks, which were repurposed and are now used as windows that overlook the beautiful city of Paris. This opening scene in Hugo shows the main character climbing to the top and looking out at the Parisian streets through the clock face.

ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S BLACKMAIL (1929)

British Museum, 3-minute movie clip

We can instantly recognise the tall columns of the British Museum’s main entrance in this movie clip, which shows a chase scene through the museum and what was once the British Library. This was one of Hitchcock’s first films to have a chase scene near a famous landmark, foreshadowing other greats like North by Northwest. Imagine if we had access to the domed roof like the actors did!

PAUL KING’S PADDINGTON (2014)

Natural History Museum, 4-minute behind-the-scenes video

Taxidermist and antagonist Millicent Clyde, played by Nicole Kidman, only has one goal in mind: capture Paddington the bear for his rare hide. This clip gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film. Many of the Kidman scenes take place in the museum’s animal exhibitions, but can you spot any other famous attractions? (Think dinosaurs!)

ALEX KURTZMAN’S THE MUMMY (2017)

Natural History Museum, 1-minute behind-the-scenes video

Once again, a movie is filmed displaying the grand staircase in the central hall of the Natural History Museum. In this short 1-minute clip, Tom Cruise’s character is seen running across this area as shards of glass and dust fly towards him. Do you think the museum looks exactly the same as in the 2014 film Paddington?

THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS’S “HEY BOY HEY GIRL” (2008)

Natural History Museum, 3-minute music video

Our third find in the Natural History Museum comes not from a film, but a music video! The Chemical Brothers, a British big beat duo, came out with this song in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2008 that the music video for it was published on Youtube. In this music video, a young schoolgirl roams around the museum on her own and stares in fascination at the various skeletons and fossils around her.

DAVID KOEPP’S MORTDECAI (2015)

Victoria and Albert Museum, 2-minute movie trailer

The National Art Library’s reading rooms found in the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London are popular filming areas due to their grandeur and great lighting. In this movie trailer, you can see Lord Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) and Inspector Alistair Martland (Ewan McGregor) discussing a missing painting in those exact reading rooms from 0:25-0:37.

Can you think of more films or music videos that take place in any other museums across London or Paris? Let us know in the comments below!

The comfortable spacious T. Rex Grill seating area
T. Rex Grill eating area

The T. Rex Grill

– Located in the Green Zone           
– Hours: 11:00 – 16:00
– Very cool display with moving dinos. A large space, great for large or small groups to meet up for score tallying (more of a sit-down place)
– Children welcome! Lots of space
– Offers burgers, steaks and pizzas at a pretty affordable price range- prices £10 and up; also offers desserts

The Kitchen's ordering bar
The Kitchen’s ordering bar

The Kitchen

– Located in the Red Zone         
– Hours: 10:00 – 17:00 
– Very kid friendly – offers lunch and activity packs to keep them entertained while parents eat (or tally up their hunts!) sit down place 
– Offers a variety of food from sandwiches, wraps and salads, pizza and burgers; also has dessert options (similar to the coffee house)           
– Prices range from £8.50- £12.50 for adults and £4.25- £5 for the children’s menu (kids under 12)         
– Adult Meal Deal: main, dessert, soft drink for £12.95            
– Kids Meal Deal: main, dessert, soft drink for £8   

Muffins on a cake stand in the Natural History Museum's The Coffee House
Great-looking muffins at the Coffee House

The Coffee House

– Located in the Red Zone (Lasting Impressions Gallery)            
– Hours: 10:00- 17:00            
– Offers pastries and baked goods ranging from £4-£6; perfect for grabbing a quick bite on the hunt (or some caffeine to refuel) or for small groups to score tally; better for on-the-go and for groups without children        

Dining area at the Natural History Museum's Central Café
Dining area at the Central Café

Central Café

– Located in the Blue Zone
– Hours: 10:00- 17:30
– Very family friendly; offers high chairs for babies and toddlers
– Mostly offers sandwiches and salads, but has on the go snacks like crisps and fruit if you need to stop and refuel; this is mostly on-the-go

Darwin centre research building lit with neon green

Darwin Centre Café

– Located in the Orange Zone            
– Hours: 10:00- 17:00 
– Very similar to the Central Café in terms of food – offers sandwiches and salads for more filling options, but also has crisps and a variety of baked goods like caked and pastries

Here are a few Chelsea places we’ve done score tallying for both travelling families on Luxe Hunts as well as for group hen hunts and prize giving ceremonies for corporate clients like Random House and Superdrug. As the V&A and Natural History Museum are just across from each other, the directions remain the same:

Bunch of Grapes (Pub)

Pub exterior, taken from TripAdvisor.

Bunch of Grapes is a lovely Victorian English pub, with original stensiled glass grand décor and dark woods throughout, with pleasant upstairs. We’ve conducted score tallying and prize-giving for up Random House here, a group of over 70 people. Bookings can be made online or by calling. Online booking for up to 8, requests can be submitted for large groups which are seated in the upstairs dining room. Service is always pleasant but it can be slow. This is a Greene King Pub.

Address: 207 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1LA
Phone: 0207 589 4944
Hours: 11:00- 23:30
Prices: circa £10 – 16
Web:https://www.greeneking-pubs.co.uk/pubs/greater-london/bunch-of-grapes/menu/main-menu

Directions:

  1. Exit the V&A or Natural History Museum via the Exhibition Road Entrance/ Exit, turning right
  2. Turn left onto Cromwell Gardens
  3. Turn right at Brompton Square Turn Right on Brompton Square and you will have arrived at your destination!
nhm to bunch of grapes

Hoop and Toy (Pub)

Pub exterior, taken from TripAdvisor.

Hoop and Toy is a cute, traditional English pub, with unique whisky and brandy bottle décor. It’s a cozy, welcoming environment, great for families and groups of friends and colleagues. Bookings can be made online or by calling. Online booking for up to 8, requests can be submitted for large groups. This is a Greene King Pub.

Address: 34 Thurloe Place, Kensington SW7 2HQ
Phone: 02075 898360
Hours: 11:00- 00:00
Prices: circa £10 – 16
Web:https://www.greeneking-pubs.co.uk/pubs/greater-london/hoop-toy/menu/main-menu

Directions:

  1. Exit the V&A or Natural History Museum via the Exhibition Road Entrance/ Exit
  2. Turn right and continue straight, eventually crossing Cromwell Road
  3. Turn Right on Thurloe Street- Hoop and Toy will be on your right, on the bend in the road
nhm to hoop and toy

Honest Burgers

Outside the South Kensington Honest Burgers, from TripAdvisor.

Honest Burgers is popular with kids and is just a short walk from either the NHM or the V&A. It has a cute, urban feel, and is better for small groups since the space isn’t that large. If you’re coming with a larger group, they would prefer that you call ahead two weeks in advance. Best availability is 3-6 on weekends. Honest Burgers offers mostly indoor seating but does have a few outdoor tables. Extremely friendly staff, eager to help and very attentive. Honest has both beef and chicken burgers, rosemary fries and delicious cocktails (preferred that drinks are ordered with food as the space is so small). Not extremely kid-friendly.

Address: 24 Thurloe Street, London SW7 2LT
Phone: +44 (0)20 3019 6440
Hours: Mon – Sun 09:30 – 13:00
Prices: circa £7 – 13 (menu here)
Web: https://www.honestburgers.co.uk/

Directions:

  1. Exit the V&A or Natural History Museum via the Exhibition Road Entrance/ Exit
  2. Turn right and continue straight, eventually crossing Cromwell Road Turn Right on Thurloe Street
  3. Honest Burgers is almost directly in front of you
nhm to honest burgers

The Kensington Creperie

The café exterior, from this blog.

The Kensington Creperie offers traditional French crepes just a short walk from the Natural History and V&A Museums. Crepes are offered as both savory and sweet and the café also serves waffles and a variety of smoothies, juices, milkshakes and hot drinks. Typically, reservations aren’t necessary, but you can always call ahead to check availability. This option is better for small groups and families.

Address: 2-6 Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2HF
Phone: 020 7589 8947
Hours: Sun to Thurs: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm Fri to Sat: 9:00 am – 11:30 pm
Prices: circa £5 – 15
Web: http://kensingtoncreperie.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/KC-Menu-1.pdf

Directions:

  1. Exit the V&A or Natural History Museum via the Exhibition Road Entrance/ Exit
  2. Turn right and continue straight, eventually crossing Cromwell Road
  3. The destination will be on your left (it has Green Awnings)
nhm to kensington creperie

GIRAFFE START & FINISH POINT

You’ll meet your THATMuse Rep at the Giraffes in the main Hintze Hall. They will have a white canvas THATMuse tote and prior to your hunt their name and contact details will be emailed to you.

TOOLS

Freshly charged batteries in your phones/cameras (per team) & comfy shoes.

Your THATMuse Mission

Photo your team in front of as many pieces of Treasure as possible within the given amount of time (90 mins to 2 hrs.) With each treasure photo you’ll earn 20 game points (about 500 game points), however, with careful reading you could pick more than 1000 bonus THATMuse points. There are several ways to do this. Our bonus questions fall into three key categories: – Scrutiny (looking more carefully at the piece or surrounding rooms) – Silliness (willing to trot like a Tang horse for bonus points?) – Knowledge (All of these questions can be answered within another piece of treasure text, within the hunt) There are also a variety of more artistic challenges & Letter Scrambles spelling out your prize treasure with THATMuse Letters embedded in the text, worth 100 bonus THATMuse points! We’ve intentionally provided more treasure text & fun than you could read about within the given time in the hope that you’ll want to return or extend your visit (& to ensure strategy!)

RULES

  1. Teams must stay together, must not run, jump or shout & of course NO NO NO TOUCHING anything…
  2. No external help… If seen speaking to a tourist-in-the-know or staffer you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no googling Marsupials, no GPS-ing where fossilized skin is, no phoning your geologist Aunt for help!
  3. Please be sure you have one (1) Master Copy with all the answers and only use one (1) camera/phone (to facilitate score tallying). In respect to Museum policy please mute your phones & no flash photography
  4. Must meet back at end point (Queen’s Gate, near Darwin Centre) at the precise time agreed. Each minute late merits 5 negative points — that’s 5 pts debited! — per minute (!!) Sometimes there are strategical reasons to be late, but attention: if you’re more than 10 mins late you’re ousted, eliminated, no point in coming back… Ouch!
You can answer bonus questions without having found the relevant treasure, as it proves you’ve read the treasure text (& will hopefully want to return to find it another day – our very goal!). Please note, you can answer bonus questions without having found the relevant treasure, as it proves you’ve read the treasure text (& will hopefully want to return to find it after your hunt or another day; our very goal is to extend your visit and plant the seed to want to return!). For a leg up on some treasure, see our THATNat category on the blog.  Morsels like Human or Ape? Or Rock or Bone or Bird or Dinosaur? May just have answers to bonus questions embedded in your text! For a sneak peek, check out this video of THATNat at the Natural History Museum!

MEETING POINT

We’ll meet on the corner of Cromwell Road & Exhibition Road and together will grapple with the security line entrance to the museum.  Your THATMuse host will have a white canvas THATMuse tote. The name and contact details of your greeter will be sent to you via email prior to your hunt.

London undergroudn entrance in the shade of a tree at the Natural History Museum
Your THATNat Meeting Point

TOOLS

Freshly charged batteries in your phones/cameras (per team) & comfy shoes.


Your THATMuse Mission

Photo your team in front of as many pieces of Treasure as possible within the given amount of time (90 minutes to 2 hours)!


RULES

  1. Teams must stay together, must not run, jump or shout & of course NO NO NO TOUCHING anything…
  2. No external help… If seen speaking to a tourist-in-the-know or staffer you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no googling Marsupials, no GPS-ing where fossilized skin is, no phoning your geologist Aunt for help!
  3. Please be sure you have one (1) Master Copy with all the answers and only use one (1) camera/phone (to facilitate score tallying). In respect to Museum policy please mute your phones & no flash photography
  4. Must meet back at end point (same as Starting point) at the precise time agreed. Each minute late merits 5 negative points — that’s 5 pts debited! — per minute (!!) Sometimes there are strategical reasons to be late, but attention: if you’re more than 10 mins late you’re ousted, eliminated, no point in coming back… Ouch!

Please note, you can answer bonus questions without having found the relevant treasure, as it proves you’ve read the treasure text (& will hopefully want to return to find it after your hunt or another day; our very goal is to extend your visit and plant the seed to want to return!).

Discussing team break ups (often a 4-person family will break into two teams, one parent and one child per team) before your hunt can drum up excitement and anticipation. For a leg up on some treasure, see our THATNat category on the blog.  Morsels like Human or Ape? Or Rock or Bone or Bird or Dinosaur? May just have answers to bonus questions embedded in your text!

For a sneak peek, check out this video of THATNat at the Natural History Museum:

Originally published March 13, 2018

On your THATNat at the Natural History Museum, you’ll come across lots of objects that look like skeletons. Mighty T-Rex skulls, a full Iguanodon, and winged pteranodons. But are the skeletons the same as the skulls of the mammoths and mastodons in the museum’s collection?   

It’s a tricky question – one that we will answer on the hunt, of course!   

Not all fossils are bones. Any trace of a long-dead creature can be a fossil. Footprints are fossils. Bones are fossils. Egg shells are fossils. Even droppings are fossils – and we can learn a lot from them! But don’t expect to find some dino do-do with any organic matter in it. That stuff is long gone.   

The Mantellisaurus!

Dinosaur remains are millions of years old, and none actually have any cell tissue in them anymore. They aren’t, well, bones. They are simply mineral replications of the bones that they once were. They have the shape and form of bone, but they are essentially rocks. There is a particular process that leads to these bones becoming the fossils you see today.   

This process is called petrification. If you can remember that you’ll have some bonus points in your pocket for the THATMuse Dinosaurs and Extinct Beasts treasure hunt!

Just in time for Easter, we’ll be celebrating these creatures by bringing them back to life, even if just in our imaginations!

By Bryan Pirolli

Meet Archaeopteryx, the most valuable fossil in the Natural History Museum! 

Archaeopteryx type specimen fossil in the Natural History Museum

Pronounced Ark-ee-op-ter-ix, this is believed to be the earliest bird ever discovered. This fossil was found in Germany in 1861, just two years after Darwin had published On the Origin of Species. This helped prove the value of his ideas. Never before had such a clear link between the animals of today and extinct creatures been discovered. It has teeth and claws like many dinosaurs yet is covered in feathers and seemed adapted to flight. Some people found its discovery so incomprehensible they thought it must be an angel!  

Paleoart of Archaeopteryx sat on a branch
What Archaeopteryx might have looked like.

This fossil is so well preserved it has been designated the ‘type specimen’ for the species. This means it is the best version we have in the world and all other possible Archaeopteryx finds are compared to this one. It seems the creature fell onto a muddy riverbank and was quickly covered up with another level of thick clay like mud, preserving it intact and flat.  

Bird Brained?

Recent studies have also managed to 3D map the inside of its skull. Bird brains are squeezed so tightly inside their skulls that it leaves an imprint of the shape of the brain on the inside of the bone over time. By reconstructing Archaeopteryx’s brain they could see it had a big enough brain to actually fly, not just glide or flap about. It had excellent eyes and co-ordination just like modern birds.  

Sinornithosaurus, a flightless feathered Chinese dinosaur
Sinornithosaurus, a flightless feathered Chinese dinosaur

Recent fossil discoveries in China have also shown many more dinosaurs with feathers. Not for flight but for display and for warmth. It could be that many more dinosaurs we know were covered in feathers, and looked more like giant chickens than the scary creatures we picture today! In February 2020 the Royal Mint released a series of 50p coins with british dinosaurs on them. Drawn by real scientist paleoartists, one depicts the Megalosaurus with a coat of feathers!