What Is Underneath the Natural History Museum?

Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the iconic Natural History Museum? The museum, located in London, England, is renowned for its vast collection of specimens and exhibits.

But what many people don’t know is that there is more to the museum than meets the eye. Let’s take a closer look at what lies beneath this historical landmark.

Basement Levels

The Natural History Museum has not one, but three basement levels that are accessible to staff and researchers. These levels contain offices, labs, and storage facilities for the museum’s extensive collection of specimens. One notable area is the Spirit Collection, which houses over 22 million animal specimens preserved in fluid.

The Darwin Centre

One of the most exciting areas in the basement levels is the Darwin Centre. This state-of-the-art facility was opened in 2009 and houses millions of specimens that are not on display to the public. The centre is divided into two parts: the Cocoon and the Attenborough Studio.

The Cocoon is a unique building that resembles a giant cocoon made of glass and steel. It houses over 80 million specimens that are preserved in various ways such as dried plants, pinned insects, and taxidermy animals. Visitors can take a behind-the-scenes tour to see how scientists work with these specimens and learn about their importance in research.

The Attenborough Studio is a multimedia space where visitors can participate in interactive exhibits related to natural history research. It’s named after Sir David Attenborough, who has been a strong advocate for conservation efforts around the world.

The Earth Sciences Library

Another area worth mentioning is the Earth Sciences Library located on Level F of the museum’s basement. This library holds one of the most extensive collections of earth sciences literature in Europe, including books dating back to the 15th century.

  • Fun Fact: The Earth Sciences Library was used as a filming location for the movie Paddington 2.


In conclusion, the Natural History Museum’s basement levels contain a wealth of knowledge and history that is not accessible to the public. From the Spirit Collection to the Darwin Centre and Earth Sciences Library, these areas provide valuable resources for researchers and scientists worldwide. So next time you visit the Natural History Museum, remember that there is much more to explore beyond its stunning exhibits.