The cocoon is open

From tomorrow (Tuesday, September 15) the public will be able to view the gigantic “cocoon”, eight stories high and 65 metres long, which houses the new £78m Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum.

The cocoon

The cocoon

The spectacular cocoon, made of polished plaster over sprayed concrete, sits inside a glass atrium on the museum’s western site, next to the original 1881 Alfred Waterhouse terracotta building. It was opened this afternoon by David Attenborough and Prince William (the latter’s first official museum opening).

Danish architects C.F. Møller designed the centre to combine public displays, specimen collections and working scientific laboratories. Research staff will be on hand to discuss their work with visitors.

“Many people love the museum for its iconic Victorian building,” says Neil Greenwood, programme director. “We wanted to challenge this traditional perception and highlight the work of our scientists and the importance of our collections.”

His colleague Paul Bowers says an important aim is to “counteract the public image of museum science as being done by older white men working on their own.”

Funding for the extension came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Wellcome Trust, among other organisations.

I loved the place, on my press preview, and strongly recommend a visit.

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