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After hours at the Natural History Museum

Tom Feilden | 10:58 UK time, Friday, 24 September 2010

The central hall of the Natural History Museum at night


It's a once in a lifetime offer. For one night only the Natural History Museum is throwing open the doors of its store rooms and laboratories, offering the public a unique insight into the hidden world of its collections.

And what a cornucopia of delights it is. Behind the scenes the museum houses some 70 million specimens gathered from every corner of the globe. You can see pictures of a few of the exhibits here.

From beetles to Barbary lion skulls, maggots to mummified Egyptian cats, visitors will be able to examine some of the museum's most treasured possessions; take a tour of normally off-limits collections; and quiz some of the 300 scientists working on global problems including disease, climate change and threats to biodiversity.

The idea behind "After Hours - Science Uncovered" is to showcase the cutting-edge research quietly going on behind closed doors.

"Museum specimens are not just great things to look at" says the Curator of Mammals, Richard Sabin.

"They're also reservoirs of information about the animals' life history. This is a very contemporary, very important, reference collection used by scientists from all over the world."

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Highlights on show will include the recently extinct chinese river dolphin, crime busting forensic maggots, and meteorites that are older than the planet itself.

And if all that doesn't impress you, try the dinosaurs in the dark.

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