Thousands of visitors of all ages, gathered for the Natural History Museum’s largest ever ‘Science Uncovered’ event. Science institutions all over Europe threw open their doors and stayed up late to bring the general public a little bit closer to Science. With cocktails and a relaxed atmosphere, After Hours at the Natural History Museum has never been more fun.
For the first time the event has included a Vets Station in its programme. Ensconced in the Mammal Hall, positioned between the flying mammals and the insect eaters, the RCVS Charitable Trust brought budding scientists moving model cats with oesophageal tubes, a bandaging station and a core skills training machine.
One of the most popular activities was the ‘Brainiest Beast’ game, in our line up the orangutan ranked highly as the biggest boffin. Heated debates started over the intelligence of cats vs. dogs. Children really loved bandaging our ‘poorly’ toy animals – they all wanted to be vets when they grew up! Our excellent student volunteers from Royal Veterinary College (RVC), London really made the event unique by engaging the crowds, young and old, with their reasons for becoming a vet, as well as their veterinary knowledge.
Apart from offering fabulous food and drink, Science Uncovered also showcased the museum’s star specimens. In the Coasts and Oceans Stations I came across the largest nematode to be removed from a blue whale, it was quite gruesome! Specimens that are normally kept safely in their jars were taken out so guests could see them up close. At the Ocean Station I learned about the impressive light display of the threadfin dragon fish and how female angler fish outsize their male companions quite considerably.
Other science stations included Forests, Antarctica and Environmental Change. The stations spanned the entire ground floor of the museum, with the central hall being the main hub of the event, hosting the Science Bar and ‘meet the animal’ sessions. One of the most popular activities was Soapbox Science, a sort of ‘speakers’ corner’ for scientists. Some topics up for discussion were “Should science be censored?” and “Equal rights for parasites”. The passionate speakers, all wearing ‘Ask me, I’m a scientist’ badges, drew quite a crowd.
After a fantastic science-packed event the only complaint we had was not having enough time to try The Pollinator, the signature cocktail of the evening!