We recently visited the Natural History Museum in Tring after I’d added it to our list of places to visit quite some time ago. I have rarely heard anyone mention it so to be honest we really didn’t know what to expect. I must admit I was worried we’d travel for an hour to get there only for it to be a huge flop! Luckily though, we were in for a pleasant surprise!
The Natural History Museum in Tring was built in 1889 and houses the huge zoological collection of Walter Rothschild. He dedicated his life to studying animals and forming his taxidermy collection. Walter opened the museum to the public in 1892 when he was just 24 years old! He had giant tortoises in his back garden and even trained zebras to pull his carriage!
The building still retains its Victorian character and the glass display cabinets are the originals from when the museum first opened. There are over 4000 specimens on display in the public galleries. Everything from beetles and insects to fish and mammals. There is so much to see!
As we entered the museum we were greeted by a receptionist who explained the facilities. We then walked through into the first gallery and were immediately greeted by a huge polar bear right in front of us! The museum is full jam packed and to see these creatures up so close is incredible. You really don’t get the idea of just how big some animals are until you’re stood face to face with them like this.
Take your time walking around the galleries. There’s so much to see it’s impossible to take it all in. All the animals are labelled and there is lots of information about them on display too. We learned so many new animal facts! There are loads of clipboards with blank paper and pencils for kids to write/draw whatever they wish as they go round. You can also pick up trail sheets from the shop.
Upstairs in one of the galleries there are lots of wooden cases you can open to discover different bugs. There are magnifying glasses to look at the details on them up close. Lily was amazed by the tiny little fleas that had actual clothes on them, a common form of entertainment in Mexico apparently!
One of my favourite things to see in the museum was the skeleton of a giant sloth. Obviously these are now extinct but I had never known they existed before. Seriously it was huge!! I couldn’t believe it when we read that it was a sloth!
On the top floor is another large gallery with grazing animals, sea mammals, nocturnal animals and even pet dogs. There is an area that has low lighting to protect the specimens from damage (it’s quite a bit darker than it looks in the photo below!). We were really interested in the video tutorial of how taxidermy is actually made. It’s quite a long complex process. Well worth a watch when you visit this gallery.
We spent a good few hours at the Natural History Museum in Tring and would definitely visit again. The facilities were very good and everything I could think of was catered for. There was stairs or a lift for disabled and pushchair access. The shop had a large variety of gifts available to purchase. Toilet facilities were well kept with separate facilities for baby changing and disabled access on each floor. Each floor had an area where you could borrow a folding chair if you wanted to have a rest or perhaps spend some time drawing. Parking is free although it is somewhat limited in the adjoining car park so you may end up finding a space on a nearby street instead.
The museum is also right next door to Tring Park so you could take a picnic and make a day of it. The cafe in the museum is reasonably priced but very small so you are unlikely to get a table during busy periods, as we discovered!
In all we thought the museum was excellent and we highly recommend it. We’ll be keeping an eye on any special events this year so we can visit again in the future!
Address: The Walter Rothschild Building, Akeman Street, Tring, HP23 6AP
Price Band: £0 Entry is free!