Dinosaurs and young children go together like peanut butter and jelly – and enduring duo. My son is no exception and having been to the Natural History Museum on three or four different occasions, I wondered whether the appeal of another dino-show would be enough to capture his imagination. We were not disappointed. The ‘Age of the Dinosaur’ exhibition adds another dimension to the museum’s dinosaur pedigree. This show is small and intimate as you move into a darkened, narrow walkway with dinosaur sights and sounds on either side.
The animatronics didn’t disappoint either but for me, what made it captivating was how close you were to them! It was thrilling. The fossil and other displays were well-spaced out with lots of detail for the children to gaze at for a long time. The touch screens were a real hit with the three children that I took, (boy, 5, boy 6 & girl 7), I had to practically drag them away from these screens which was surprising as the content of the activity was highly educational.
The online scrapbook at the end was a real treat and a great way to end the show. This clever idea uses simple ‘drag and drop’ technology. The children select themed items they have seen at the museum and ‘paste’ them into a virtual scrapbook which they can access at home online. It’s great way for them to continue their learning.
We almost missed the ‘invisible dinosaur’ (just before you get to the inevitable gift shop) an illusion created by projecting white dino-footprint onto the black floor which disappeared after a few seconds when the children tried to stand on them! A simple trick, but a nice interactive touch which wowed the little group I was with. Ten out of ten for creativity in bringing the learning experience to life!
I wonder whether the narrowness of the walkway, which is great for getting up close and personal with the moving creatures, would get too crowded on a busy day or a squeeze with buggies. Also a handout of the dinosaur’s names at the beginning of the exhibition would be great for the slightly older children who are keen on coding and naming.
All in all, a dino-tastic and educational exhibition!
Visit the Age of the Dinosaur Exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London daily until 4 September 2011. For more details, visit the NHM website, follow @NHM_London on Twitter, or join the NHM’s Facebook page.