Tring Natural History Museum

Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire HP23 6AP

Tring Museum (or Tring Zooseum as middle child likes to call it) is a weird and wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. I mean, this place really is unique. In summary, one of the super rich Rothschild clan loved animals (he used to have zebra pulling his cart and declared at 14 he would open a museum) and he set about building a huge collection of natural history specimens. This museum was built to house them and is now open to the public. I’m not sure there is anything else like this, on this scale, elsewhere in the UK. We love it.

Inside there are thousands of taxidermy specimens of all kinds of animals; Polar bears, Gorillas, birds, fish, Zebra (obviously) and an extensive collection of dogs. They also have the skeleton of a Giant Sloth! Because most of the specimens are real, dead, stuffed animals it’s not going to be to everyone’s taste. At the end of the Dog gallery there is a video on how Taxidermy is done. It includes a video about skinning the animal and it goes into a fair amount of detail. It’s interesting but you have been warned!

All of my kids love this place though and it’s a good way to see creatures you wouldn’t normally get to see so close. It’s also a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. I recently took smallest child along for her first fully walking day trip. She spent ages toddling up and down the corridors stopping periodically when she spotted one she liked. 

Access-wise, it’s an old building so it does have access issues. There are lifts and level entry points for disabled visitors but you’re not allowed to take pushchairs. The upper gallery is exactly that, a gallery with some lovely ornamental (and therefore very climb-able) railings. The gallery has a big drop and it’s quite narrow so middle child practically runs through this bit as he’s a bit scared of it. The part of the museum that is more modern (Galleries 4, 5 and 6) are much more spacious though.

The museum is very popular and, especially during the holidays and wet weekends, it does get very busy. This is particularly evident in the upper gallery. You certainly get up close and personal with fellow visitors.

These are the railings around the upper gallery – not exactly small child friendly!

Entry – Free, donations accepted. 

Visiting hours are Monday-Saturday 10.00-17.00, Sunday 14.00-17.00. If you are able to go during the week I would recommend you do.

Parking – On-site and free. There is a very small car park on site which is almost always full but there is a new car park around the corner. They’ve recently done a lot of work on it so it’s actually usable now. There is limited on-street parking as well she those both be full. 

Toilets – You have to go outside to get to the mains ones but they are clean enough. There is also a diabled toilet on the ground floor (as if you were going out towards the picnic area) which is huge and easily large enough to get a pushchair in there. 

Food – There is a new cafe (Ugly Bug Cafe) and it’s a vast improvement from what used to be there. It is now a proper cafe with a decent hot and cold menu. Kids boxes are £3.95 for 5 items. They do some lovely cakes which are all hand-made in Tring. I had the millionaires shortbread but then have massive cake envy when a HUGE slice of cake was served to the lady next to me. The only downside is that there are only five tables, even on a weekday at 11:30 it was full. 

If you’re taking a picnic, there is an outside picnic area, or take a stroll across to Tring Park and eat over there.
Rating – 4 / 5 You won’t spend more than a couple of hours there, but they will be memorable hours and the kids find it fascinating. Best combined with a visit to Tring Park to get the most out of the day.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/tring.html

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