Last week we were extremely lucky to be invited to the Natural History Museum in London after hours for a private viewing of the Dinosaur gallery and the fun things they had planned for #cometolife over the holidays.
So obviously we dropped everything and rearranged our week, found a hotel and put london on our schedule. (This trip we stayed at the Premier Inn Kensington Olympia and as usual used Just Park to find a space nearby - Just Park is totally my top tip for driving to london and finding affordable parking where you actually want to park)
So we arrived in London after a day of getting ourselves sorted, and the boys got ready for our special visit, of course they insisted on wearing their dino Tell Tails which we picked up on our last trip to the museum and that they totally adore, basically now any dinosaur related moment in life will be completed with an awesome dino tail. If you havent seen them yet and you have a dino mad smalll person (or quite frankly big person) in your life, then you need to check them out, they even waggle as you walk.
At just before 6.30 we rocked up to the front gates of the Natural History Museum and met the lovely security guard Alan who checked us off the list and let us in, in turn getting the kids super excited. I love how no matter when we go and who we meet at the NHM they are always amazing and so engaging with the kids, even the security guards, it makes such a difference to any trip when you know that the people you interact with are going to make the experience even more memorable.
Then we took in the crazyness of walking up to the main doors cmpletely alone with no one around and entered hintze hall where we met more of the lovely security team and the ladies that had organised the night. These guys didnt dissapoint either, everyone was friendly and kind and wonderful to each one of us, even taking on the role of chief dinosaur chaser with Axel.
Whilst I had a quick chat and worked out what we were doing Dex set about chatting everyone up and telling them all about the exhibits (seriously David Attenborough you need to watch out for this kid :) ). I found him discussing the iguanadon skeleton before we moved on to explore more.
We headed straight down to the dinosaur gallery, even turning down the corridor to see an empty hall way was totally surreal, for the first time I noticed the things on the walls and the amazing patterns in the building.
Dex and Ax immediately spotted the specimens table and made their way over to explore. They were lucky enough to hold dinosaur teeth and skulls and even poo...much to the delight of a certain two year old. The staff talked them through everything, tailoring their talk to each of them so whilst Axel smelt the fossilised poo, Dexter was looking more indepthly at the fossils finding different markings, talking about how we can learn from the findings and making connections to animals that are alive today. We spent so much time at this part as we all loved it so much, real hands on learning, the enthusiasm of the kids and the staff was intoxicating.
Once we tore them away from the specimens table we came to the stegosaurus jigsaws, big wooden 3d puzzles for the kids to put together, this was easily Axels favourite part (other than running in circles in Hintze Hall roaring) and over the course of the night he must have gone back to do this again at least ten times. They put the Stegosaurus together and then talked about the plates on its back, what they were for and what they really looked like, then got to look more indepthly at some 3d printed fossilised plates, tail spike and skull.
Axel liked the guy running this part and really engaged with him, whilst playing with the puzzle and was able to learn at his level which was just fantastic.
After all that excitement we headed into the Dinosaur Gallery, somewhere we have been many times before, but never seen like this. Walking around alone we were able to stop and read absolutely everything, to try out all the hands on exhibits and to get properly face to face with the roarsome T-Rex. We loved exploring and getting to see things in such detail, perfect for certain dinosaur loving small people.
Next up we headed back out to the corridor to find the 3d T-Rex painting. Get your set up just right and you can get a photo that looks like the T-Rex is coming out of the wall to get you, we had lots of fun with this, playing and then looking at the photos.
Once we were dinosaured out (yeah Im pretty sure thats a word...or it should be) we went for what felt like an extremely special walk around Hintze Hall and the upper gallery. Axel ran around the place being a dinosaur and hiding in every corner he could find, Dex searched out exhibits he loved and ones he hadnt noticed before. We looked at everything and tried to take it all in. Standing on the upper staircase looking down over Hope was nothing short of magical, whispering to each other so we didnt break the silence. I obviously grabbed every single photo oppurtunity that I could and I think they will stand to be some of my favourite ever snaps, a shared memory for all four of us to cherish forever.
Some of my favourite photos from the night are of Dexter sat on the main staircase in Hintze Hall, with Hope behind him lit up making it just feel so perfect. He was sat reeling off all the things he had seen and learnt and gushing about all the fun we had had, I could have stayed in that moment forever, just me and him, not a care in the world, laughing and bonding over this special night. He said it wasnt just awesome, it was the bestest ever most amazing night in his whole life...and ive got to say I compeltely agree.
Before the night was over we visited the Dinosaur Gallery one more time to see all the staff again and to look at a few more specimens, then as the night ended we collected our coats and said goodbye to everyone and headed back out those main doors, waving goodbye to the beautiful blue Hope as we went out into the london night, a short walk had us back at the hotel where the kids lay in bed excitedly talking about the night before eventually passing out in an excited heap dreaming about more magical adventures.
What a totally amazing experience for every one of us, and all the dino activities are on all through the holidays so you can go get a taste of our experiecne every day with their #cometolife activities. This place is so magical (all day every day not just on special events) a beautiful building filled with amazing exhibits that thrill and excite thousands of people everyday, its our number one recomendation for any trip to London (or every trip if you are us :) )