Night at the Museum – The Doctor Who Late at the NHM

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Image Credit: James Ashworth

Image Description: The TARDIS with the Moon Sculpture at the NHM

By James Ashworth

Whether it’s the British Museum, the Louvre, or The Space Museum, the Doctor spends a lot of time amongst the collections of various worlds. As such, their decision to visit the Natural History Museum for the day was not particularly suprising. After rushing from a late Friday evening class at University, I was pleased to be able to walk straight in to the museum, and its Doctor Who-themed late opening. I had been worried about queues stretching around the block, and so the ability to walk straight in to the grand entrance hall, resplendent with suspended whale, was a great relief. Catching up with the group from Kings College London Doctor Who Society (Sorry Oxford), we set about exploring everything the event had to offer.

If I’m being honest, the event was not as big as I had expected. In some ways, this may just be a consequence of never having attended an NHM late opening before, with many of the galleries closed off, when I had imagined that they would all have received a Who twist for the night. If I’d been on my own, it was probably feasible to have visited everything, talk and episode aside, in 30-45 minutes, which would’ve made for a rather less enjoyable evening than the one I had. In the end, being with a group of whovians really made it, as we provided our own Who perspectives for the exhibits on display while wandering the halls. We also made sure to take in the TARDIS, freshly materialised under a sculpture of the moon in such a photogenic way you’d almost think the Doctor had planned to leave it there…

Having taken in the stands and activities taking place around the museum, we attempted to get into the episode screening, which ended up being something of a disappointment. Why, of all the episodes, would Smith and Jones have been played in the Natural History Museum? What about Dinosaurs on a Spaceship? Or The Big Bang? Both of those were surely better fits for the setting! Having given up on this, we went to a talk being given by representatives of Millennium FX and the museum, discussing the creatures of Doctor Who. Getting in on the second attempt, it was more than worth it, with enough stimulating discussion and insight into the show to keep the audience entertained. There was even a live demonstration of the Judoon’s head from the upcoming S12 episode they will be featuring in, as well as models of the Silurians, Minotaur, and Sleep Crabs among others. I’m quite glad we decided to stick it out in the queue – it was the highlight of the evening.

As the night came to an end, we each went our separate ways. While the NHM late was not essential visiting by any means, though I noticed a significant number of attendees from the Quiz of Rassilon were in attendance, it was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours for no cost. I hope that it will happen again, and when it does, they build on this event to produce something even better.

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