South Kensington is home to a host of institutions and museums that celebrate science and technology. Follow this weekend itinerary to explore the area's best science sights.
Since 1881, London's Natural History Museum has been sharing the wonders of nature with visitors, and this is the perfect place to begin your South Kensington science experience. Take the tube to South Kensington station and the Natural History Museum is just a five-minute walk north (follow the signs at the station). Start your visit off in the Blue Zone, exploring the Dinosaurs exhibit, which includes a life-size animatronic T-Rex. Then spend some times exploring the natural world today in the Fishes, Amphibians and Reptiles room and the Mammals exhibit where you can compare the size of a blue whale with some of the tiniest mammals on the planet. Take a wander through the Green Zone, where you can see historic specimens of birds and fossilised marine reptiles. Finally, head up the escalator to the Red Zone, where you can explore the earth itself and explore an earthquake simulator.
Our top Natural History Highlights
- The first fossil ever found of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, in the Blue Zone's Dinosaurs gallery
- See a menagerie of animals from all over the world in the Blue Zone's Mammals (blue whale) gallery
- Specimens of the now-extinct Dodo in the Green Zone's Birds gallery
- Glow-in-the-dark minerals in the Red Zone's Earth's Treasury
- The Gibraltar 1 skull - the first adult Neanderthal skull ever found, in the Red Zone's Human Evolution gallery
Right next door to the NHM is the London Science Museum, home to some of London's best displays celebrating science and its history. From space exploration to a room dedicated to the Making of the Modern World, the museum houses artefacts which have defined and shaped civilisation. The Wonderlab is a must-see with interactive exhibits and live laboratory experiments. And don't forget to check out the IMAX theatre to see incredible documentaries and feature films on the big screen.
Our top science and tech highlights
- A real piece of the Moon, in the Exploring Space gallery.
- The Apollo 10 capsule, from the 1969 lunar orbit in the Making the Modern World gallery
- The section of transatlantic cable, which changed the face of global communication in the Information Age gallery
- Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, the first fully-automatic calculating machine, in the Mathematics Gallery
- The world's first vacuum cleaners in the Secret Life of the Home Gallery
The V&A is home to art and design, but throughout its halls you can find examples of how science and technology have helped artists with their work. From the engineering and mathematics involved in architecture, to the merging of design and technology using 3D printing, the museum is full of examples of how art and science cross paths.
Our top V&A science and tech highlights
- The architecture rooms (Rooms 127 - 128a)
- 'Tipu's Tiger' - a wooden semi-automaton from the late 1700s in India (Room 41)
- Jellyfish installation - a series of glass jellyfish 'specimens' created by artist Steffen Dam (Room Room 131)
- Sketch chair - a 3D-printed chair from Finland in 2005 (Rooms 133 – 135)
Nestled deep within the cultural hub is the Imperial College South Kensington campus. Take a stroll around the historic college buildings - you can see some of the original faculty buildings, with their department names carved into the stonework. You can take a student-led tour, or make use of the self-guided tour brochure developed by the college. The university holds a monthly Fringe festival and an annual Imperial Festival, both of which are open to the public and feature science and research from across the university.
Founded in 1830, the Royal Geographical Society is a world leader in geography around the world. The society runs a program of public events including lectures and forums throughout the year on a wide range of subjects. The society also holds a series of exhibitions in their Pavilion on Exhibition Road, which are well worth a visit. Exhibitions cover a range of issues across geography, exploration, research, and artistic expressions of geographical concepts.
The Design Museum pays homage to the designers and creators who have shaped contemporary society, and science plays a big part in that story. The museum's Designer Maker User permanent exhibition features an entire section dedicated to the evolution of technology: from the first computers through to the smart phone. The exhibit is a fascinating visit for those interested in science and technology, as you trace the origins of some of the most well-loved and well-used science and tech inventions of contemporary society. When you're ready to head home, take the tube from High Street Kensington station.
Our top design highlights
- An Olympic torch from the London 2012 games
- A collection of mobile phones from the historic to the modern
- The Crowd-Sourced wall - displaying 500 items that people considered their most important objects