I slept with 200 people at The Natural History Museum. In the Central Hall, under the watchful skeleton of Dippy the Diplodocus. When NHM London first advertised their Dino Snores night, I was gutted to read that it was only for kids. ‘What about the adults?’ I replied, ‘We want a sleepover too!’. So when they announced that Dino Snores was coming for the grown ups, I had to get tickets.
Except, I didn’t – they’d sold out too quickly.
So, when my other half saw that there was another Dino Snores this year, he snapped up tickets in secret and revealed the treat 3 weeks before Dino Day. I did a lot of this…
Setting up camp
Once the museum had closed for the day, we Dino Snorers arrived for the evening takeover and set up our sleeping bags in the Central Hall. It was already pretty packed when we arrived but we managed to grab a spot by the exit of the Dinosaurs gallery before heading for dinner with a mojito in hand.
Dinner and exploring
For dinner we were sat at a table with some really cool people, including an artist who told us sleeping over at the museum had been a dream of his ever since he was 5 years old. The same could be said for everyone, which was something so great about the evening. Everyone was there for one reason – they love the museum.
After dinner we got to pick from some activities and talks. We went for Dr Erica McAlister’s talk on insects…and sex. Had I really waited 25 years to see slides of various insect penises? Dr McAlister had her audience in stitches and I loved how much she was enjoying freaking us out with all the pictures and descriptions of insect private parts! After the talk we headed to the Darwin Centre for some life drawing.
By the time we’d finished the life drawing it was midnight, so we had 3 hours to wander the exhibitions by night before the ghost stories and movies began. The building looks so beautiful dimly lit at night and it was great to experience the exhibitions without swarms of children! And, we didn’t have to queue for the Dinosaur gallery – because there wasn’t one!
To finish the evening before we all tucked up into our sleeping bags, there were ghost stories and scary movies in the Marine Invertebrates gallery. The night guards told us about all the ghosts and legends they’d experienced and heard about, but unfortunately not one of them had seen Dippy walking around in the middle of the night.
Waking up to Velociraptors
7am. Vaguely light. The quiet shuffle of the early risers wandering to the bathrooms. And the screeching of the Velociraptors. That’s not something you wake up to everyday. We’d parked our sleeping bags near the exit of the Dinosaurs gallery and so woken to the sound of the exhibit’s creatures. One cooked breakfast later and we were wide awake, ready to pack up our stuff and say goodbye to Dippy.
Dino Snores really did feel like a once in a lifetime experience, even though I’d definitely buy tickets to do it again. Experiencing the museum in the middle of the night, creeping around the halls like we weren’t really supposed to be there, and then leaving the next morning as visitors were queuing to get in – it all felt magical. Like so many people had said that night, it was a dream we’d all had since we were kids. One that actually came true.