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Wollaton Hall and Natural History Museum
Wollaton Hall is a spectacular Grade One Elizabethan mansion, and now houses the city's Natural History Museum along with reconstructed room settings from different periods in the Hall's history.
Since Wollaton Hall opened to the public in 1926, it has been home to the city's natural history museum. On display are some of the best items from the three quarters of a million specimens that make up its zoology, geology, and botany collections.
Natural Connections Gallery
This gallery explores the relationship between the natural world and ourselves. One of the central themes in the gallery is extinction, and a number of extinct and near-extinct species are on display. These include a passenger pigeon and a flightless parrot from New Zealand - the kakapo. Recent additions to the gallery include the extraordinary duck-billed platypus, a giant anteater and a rare maned sloth. Other popular exhibits include an orangutan skeleton, a hippo skull and a Humboldt penguin, together with many other mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects, and fossils.
Recreated in the style of a 1930s natural history museum display, this gallery contains taxidermied Victorian birds and game heads, alongside more contemporary specimens. Many of the birds were collected in Ethiopia and Sudan by the 19th century Nottinghamshire explorer Mansfield Parkyns. These include one of the first two specimens of the shoebill, or whale-billed stork, brought back to Europe in 1850. Other exhibits include a pelican, a
bird-of-paradise, and a red kite.
Spectacular butterflies, moths, beetles and bugs from around the world are on display here. Focusing on the biology and life-cycle of insects, this gallery also includes a section on social insects including a Caribbean cloud forest diorama showing some of the birds and mammals that depend upon termite colonies for food and nest sites. Live insects are also featured - these include stick insects from Borneo and Papua New Guinea, and a colony of Madagascan hissing cockroaches.
This gallery showcases some of the 5,000 specimens that make up the rock and mineral collection. It includes some the original Nottingham Naturalists' Society collection and fine displays of classic minerals from the North of England (early 20th century) and Cornwall and Devon (19th century). You can also get up close to some giant ammonites - fossilised coiled shells of ancient squid-like sea creatures.
The Nottingham Natural History Museum's famous gorilla and giraffe specimens can be seen here, together with a splendid cheetah - the fastest land mammal. The gallery also features a walk-through waterhole scene complete with zebras, leopards, hyenas, antelopes, warthogs, ostriches, a porcupine and even a fruit bat. An interactive panel enables visitors to hear the sounds made by some of the better-known African animals.
You can follow George the Gorilla on Twitter for news and updates from the Nottingham Natural History Museum: @george_gorilla
On your visit to the Hall enjoy:
- Tudor Kitchens
The original beehive ovens and charcoal stove have been fully restored and the kitchens furnished according to the 1601 inventory. On event days, enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of an authentic working Tudor kitchen. Access is by our daily guided tours only. Check the Wollaton Hall events and tours web page for times and prices.
- The Regency Dining Room
Presented as it would have looked during the Wyattville restoration, complete with introductory video featuring the family housekeeper, Mrs Gildart.
- The Regency Salon
Presented as it would have been in 1832 when Lady Jane Middleton was in residence, enjoy an audio visual interpretation. Please note: The Salon is currently closed until further notice for essential repairs and maintenance.
- The Prospect Room
Situated on top of the Great Hall with stunning architecture and panoramic views of the city and beyond. Access via small spiral staircase and by daily guided tour only. Check the Wollaton Hall events and tours web page for times and prices.
- The Bird Room
Recreated as it would have looked in the 1920s when Wollaton Hall first became a natural history museum, complete with interactive exhibits.
Wollaton Hall was originally designed by Robert Smythson and built for Sir Francis Willoughby, being completed following eight years of building work in 1588- the year of the Spanish Armada.
The building is in the English Renaissance style and its flamboyant design is considered to be a masterpiece. Following a fire in 1642 the interior was extensively remodelled, and again radically redesigned by Sir Jeffry Wyatville in the late 18th and early 19th centuries for the 6th Lord Middleton. The exterior remains little altered since its construction and is as stunning today as it was in 1588.
A programme of restoration at Wollaton Hall, Gardens & Deer Park was completed in April 2007. Costing £9million, the project was partly funded by the European Union European Regional Development Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.