A changing vision of natural history

Since the Museum's foundation in 1860, many changes have taken place in the main court. Images from our Library and Archives in the gallery below illustrate how the Museum has changed over time.

The first image, dated 1890, shows the mammal skeletons lined up in a straight line in the centre court, as well as various other specimens on top of cases, with additional cases at right angles to the main showcases. The Iguanodon skeleton was not displayed in the centre court at this time, and the T. rex was not introduced until the 2000s. 

This second, undated, photograph shows that some of the specimens that were previously on top of displays have been moved. The Iguanodon skeleton is placed in the south narrow aisle, and the angle-topped cases in the foreground are no longer used by the Museum. The Rock-Forming Minerals display in the foreground on the left is an example of the transition to the current two-door style of showcase that you can see in the Museum today. The showcase to its right has four panels and is an older style. The mammal skeletons in the 1890 photograph remain in the centre court. 

The final colour image, taken in 1994, shows two elephant skeletons (Indian and African elephants) in the centre court. These specimens are now in the north aisle as part of our Skeleton Parade. The pitched roofs that you can see in previous photographs are absent here, but were reintroduced for the outer aisle cases in 2003. There are no specimens on the tops of the showcases.


Useful links...

Find out more about the Museum Library and Archives.

If you have specific questions regarding the redisplay project, please contact the team.

This phase of the Life, As We Know It redisplay project has been made possible thanks to generous funding from FCC Environment. The FCC Communities Fund gift enables us to safeguard our heritage with the purchase of bespoke showcases at today’s conservation and display standards.