Why Was the Natural History Museum Built?

The Natural History Museum is one of the most famous museums in the world, holding an extensive collection of specimens and artifacts related to natural history. But why was this museum built? Let’s delve into its history and purpose.

The Origins of the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum was originally established in 1753 as part of the British Museum. The main purpose of this museum was to collect, preserve, and display specimens related to natural history. At that time, natural history was a growing field of study, and many scientists were interested in examining specimens from around the world.

In 1881, the natural history collection was separated from the British Museum and moved to its current location in South Kensington. This move allowed for better organization and management of the collection, as well as more space for display.

The Purpose of the Natural History Museum

The primary purpose of the Natural History Museum is to educate visitors about natural history and promote scientific understanding. To achieve this goal, the museum has a wide range of exhibits that cover everything from dinosaurs to human evolution to insects.

One important aspect of the museum’s mission is conservation. The museum houses over 80 million specimens, including plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, and meteorites. These specimens provide a record of life on Earth and are essential for understanding biodiversity and environmental change.

Another key aspect of the museum’s mission is research. The museum has an active research program that covers a wide range of topics related to natural history. Scientists at the museum conduct research on everything from insect behavior to climate change.

The Architecture of the Natural History Museum

The architecture of the Natural History Museum is also worth mentioning. The building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse in a Gothic Revival style that incorporates elements from nature into its design. For example, there are carvings of plants and animals throughout the exterior of the building.

The most iconic feature of the museum is its main entrance, which is known as the Hintze Hall. This grand entrance hall features a towering skeleton of a blue whale, which is suspended from the ceiling. The whale skeleton serves as a reminder of the diversity and majesty of life on Earth.


In conclusion, the Natural History Museum was built to collect, preserve, and display specimens related to natural history, educate visitors about biodiversity and environmental change, promote scientific understanding through research, and inspire awe and wonder through its architecture. Its extensive collection and active research program make it an important institution for anyone interested in natural history.