In a nutshell

A colourful temporary exhibition at this world-famous institution, housing a host of captivating butterflies

What we tested

  • Fun for kids
    A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.
  • Fun for parents
    A star rating of 3.0 out of 5.
  • Worth the money
    A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
  • Facilities
    A star rating of 3.0 out of 5.
  • Family friendliness
    A star rating of 3.0 out of 5.
Overall Rating
A star rating of 3.7 out of 5.

COVID-19 safety update

Some facilities and attractions may be closed or restricted this year, due to COVID-19 – and there may be extra safety rules, pre-booking requirements or one-way systems in place. Please check Natural History Musuem's website before travelling or booking.

When we visited:

We visited on a blisteringly hot day at the start of the summer 2018 school holidays


What’s The Natural History Museum like since Covid-19?

  • We recommend that you wear a face covering inside the Museum, in line with government guidance.
  • The Museum is continuing to operate at a reduced capacity to give visitors more space to enjoy. Guests should follow the signposted one-way routes
  • Hand sanitiser is available throughout the Museum
  • Facilities will be cleaned throughout the day by staff
  • Guests should pay with contactless, although cash will still be accepted
  • Protective screens are in place at key touchpoints such as cafes, shops and information desks. Face coverings are optional for staff
  • It is no longer a legal requirement to collect your contact details for Test and Trace purposes. NHS QR codes are still be available for those who choose to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app.

How much does it cost?

Sensational Butterflies exhibition:

Any extra charges once we’re there?

The dedicated gift shop, which you have to walk through to exit, is small but well-stocked with a range of butterfly merchandise that will appeal to almost every taste and budget.

We came away from the Sensational Butterflies shop with two large fridge magnets (£1.50 each), a pair of mini binoculars (£4.50) and a pair of bug googles (£5.99) for our brood, which seemed to keep them happy for the rest of the day

What did you think of the Sensational Butterflies exhibition?

In a word – magical! The butterflies were entrancing and utterly captivating. The short walk through the enclosure felt like an escape to an otherworldly paradise, where brightly coloured winged insects flutter between lush foliage and tropical flowers. The 3 kids I took in (2 5 year olds and a 2 year old) were awestruck and walked around pointing at everything with their mouths agape.

What were the best bits?

We gazed for minutes at a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis in the window of the butterfly nursery, where dozens of pupas hung in rows, waiting to hatch. The children and I trod carefully (you don’t want to step on any of these fragile creatures and we spotted a few on the floor, two of whom were mating!) along the rubber walkway, trying and failing to point out every butterfly we could spot as there were just too many of them.

Rocco’s favourite were the emerald green beauties, while the older two were keen to have me read the information panels, which are judiciously scattered around, so they could learn a little more about the creatures.

Read our full MadeForMums family review of the Natural History Museum

Is the exhibition educational?

Yes – the panels list bite-sized pieces of information about the various butterflies that have been ethically sourced from Africa, Asia and the Americas and are a great way to absorb facts without having to take your eyes off the main attraction for too long.

There were also several knowledgeable staff members on hand to explain the patterns, preferences and wingspans of the insects, which made for an educational and entertaining experience.

How long will we spend in the exhibition?

You can spend as long in the exhibition as you like but it was hot, humid and we were starting to sweat after about 5 minutes so we reluctantly bid farewell to the butterflies before too long.

NB: Try not to take buggies into the exhibition as wheels pose a risk to the delicate inhabitants!

Opening dates and times:

  • Natural History Museum – open daily from 10am until 5.50pm Last entry at 5.30pm. Closed – 24-26 December
  • Sensational Butterflies exhibition – runs from now until 16 September 2018

Best time to visit:

If you’re visiting the Sensational Butterflies exhibition, go first thing. It’s hot and sticky in there at the best of times but when the outside temperature goes up, staff may have to temporarily close the exhibition around lunchtime to water the plants.

You’d hate to miss out or have to queue so head there at 10am, straight from the bus or tube (it’s on the East Lawn, near the corner of Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road).


Intro to me:

This was a family affair; I visited the Natural History Museum with my two boys, aged 2 and 5, along with their cousin, also aged 5, her mum (my sister), and our mum (the kids’ grandma)


Gabrielle NathanContributor

Gabrielle Nathan has been a journalist for 20 years, writing lifestyle features for publications including Red, Women’s Health, Wildflower and Condé Nast Traveller. She has been writing about parenting since 2012, the year she became a mum.