Museum of Life

What happens behind the scenes at the Museum? Why is it important to preserve the 70 million specimens in the collections? And how relevant is the research of Museum scientists to today’s challenges, like biodiversity loss and the spread of tropical disease?

The BBC documentary, Museum of Life, will answer these questions, and many more.

About the series

Museum of Life will give viewers an inside look at the Natural History Museum and some of the 300 or more scientists who work here.

Cameras will follow them on collecting expeditions around the world, as they hunt for dinosaur fossils and study the biodiversity of remote areas. But there are also plenty of discoveries to be made at the Museum itself, including hidden store rooms full of specimens, and high tech science facilities, such as the DNA labs.

Find out about the huge variety of plants and animals that scientists study here, and why they are important for conservation efforts today.

About the presenters

As a young man, Jimmy Doherty (Jimmy’s Farm, Jimmy Doherty in Darwin’s Garden, Jimmy’s Global Harvest) worked as a volunteer at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Now he returns to join the Museum scientists and find out how much has changed.

He is joined by engineer Kate Bellingham (Tomorrow’s World), doctor of tropical medicine Chris van Tulleken (Medicine Men), environmental scientist Liz Bonnin (Bang Goes the Theory) and zoologist Mark Carwardine (Last Chance to See).

Watching Museum of Life

The series will be shown on BBC2 at 8pm for 6 weeks, from Thursday 18th March.

Episode 1 highlights

Archaeopteryx lithographica, an important specimen in the evolution of birds
  • Hear some of the secrets behind the 26m-long Diplodocus cast in the Central Hall.
  • Watch conservators make a cast of Archaeopteryx, the valuable dino-bird skeleton, which has to be kept in specially controlled conditions for scientific research.
  • Follow entomologists as they go pond-dipping for mosquitoes in Kent and find out how their work is helping create effective strategies for controlling mosquitoes.

On the Museum's website

Close-up of Tyrannosaurus rex' lower teeth

We will be updating this website regularly during the series with more information on the scientific research and the specimens shown in each episode.  Find out how to visit them, learn more about a range of species from early humans to T. rex, and much more.

There will also be an opportunity to use our forums to discuss some of the topics raised in the documentary, and ask questions of some of the scientists who featured in it.

Can't wait 2 weeks until the series starts to find out more about Museum research?  Then follow the work of our scientists around the world on the interactive map.