A rapid response from the NHM

Dear Mark,

Thank you for your email.

The Museum is currently consulting on plans for a redevelopment of its grounds, from Exhibition Road in the East, along the front of the main Waterhouse building, and on the West from Cromwell Road to the northern extremity of the site (Museum Lane). The plan currently under consultation introduces museum visitors to the narrative content of the museum by including outdoor exhibits on deep time and sustainable living and well-being in an urban setting. It also suggests changes to the current Wildlife Garden, a man-made environment which currently has to be closed to the public for six months of the year resulting in only 1-2% of annual visitors being able to enter this area. The entire grounds project will increase biodiversity across the whole site of the Museum, and recognises the need to accommodate enormous growth in attendance since free admission was reintroduced in December 2001 – from 1.6m to 5.3m visits.

We are interested in all informed views of the current plan which can be viewed at


Input to the consultation should be sent to : [email protected]<mailto:[email protected]>

Best wishes

Sir Michael Dixon


The Natural History Museum

Cromwell Road


10 Replies to “A rapid response from the NHM”

  1. i got exactly the same response. I am very suspicious of the claim that ‘the entire grounds project will increase biodiversity across the whole site’ and do not in any case see why this objective requires destruction of well established habitats in the wildlife garden. The comment that the garden is ‘a man-made habitat’ is a diversionary tactic that simply aims to muddy the waters: it is irrelevant if the habitat is man made or not – virtually no habitat in Britain and certainly none in London can be said to be entirely natural but some man-made landscapes, whether by accident or design, have become valuable to species other than ourselves and we can endeavour to maintain such wildlife-favourable landscapes if we choose to.

  2. I’ve cobbled together my response to the museum ([email protected]) from some of the comments made on Mark’s earlier blog. Feel free to use it as a template if you want.

    I wish to strongly oppose the plans to run a path through the museum’s wildlife garden. I look forward to visiting the garden, as much as the museum, so I felt quite shocked that the senior management would consider destroying such a lovely place.

    The comment made by the landscape architect, Kim Wilkie (who put forward the favoured bid); that the garden is “indistinguishable from any municipal garden anywhere in the country”, is ignorant at best, disingenuous at worst, when 3000 species have been recorded there. The museum should not be in the business of destroying biodiversity and it would appear that this scheme is unnecessary anyway when there are others that offer the desired alleviation of visitor congestion without destroying the garden. The Museum’s senior management obviously thinks that a path to quicken visitor journey time to see extinct exhibits is worth more than the living natural world.

    As well as the intrinsic value of the garden itself, there are the two decades of work undertaken by NHM scientists, staff and volunteers in monitoring and maintaining the wildlife garden. To end this experiment and sweep this away is to show a profound ignorance of the important work that has gone on over the past 20 years in educating people about the importance and value of bringing the natural environment into the city.

    The museum’s comment that the garden is ‘a man-made habitat’ is also irrelevant – virtually no habitat in Britain and certainly none in London can be said to be entirely natural, but some man-made landscapes, whether by accident or design, have become valuable to species other than ourselves.

    The site is also designated as a Borough Grade 2 non-statutory site and a ‘flagship site’ by Kensington and Chelsea Biodiversity Partnership.

    In 2013-14, 5 and a half million people visited the museum. If 1-2% of these also visit the garden then it is still a substantial amount and probably more than a remote rural nature reserve would receive.

    1. Many thanks, Apus Apus and Mark.

      I shall personalise and send – also shall pass on to friends and contacts.

  3. I fully agree with the statements of Jonathan Wallace and apus apus
    as they eloquently express my opinion.

  4. I have just heard of this plan and I am completely appalled. To destroy a mature and invaluable resource like this simply to get more visitors through is very wrong on so many levels. Firstly, you cannot simply uproot and move an established habitat like this; secondly, it is its very wildness and its very lack of wide paths that make it so greatly attractive and suitable for the wildlife that exists there, and also to the visitors; and thirdly, I know of NOBODY who likes to be herded like a flock of sheep through any environment whether it’s an airport or a garden centre or a museum. In fact, I believe they will lose a lot of visitors over this .. but maybe that’s their secret agenda. Maybe they want to reduce visitor numbers. Well, surely funding depends on visitor numbers, and I can tell them for nothing that while most of us dislike paying admission fees, we’d much rather do so that have this wonderful museum turned into a poor apology for an American style ‘theme park’. It would damage it’s distinctive character beyond repair.

    In my opinion, this is the trouble with getting business managers in to run places like this – look at what has happened already in health and education, where doctors, nurses and schoolteachers feel let down and helpless because of decisions made by people who have never seen the ‘shop floor’ of the sector they are running. In the end, people suffer, despite what the convenient statistics tell you, and in this case, also the wildlife.

    Please do feel free to pass this along to the museum if you think it will help.

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