Explore animals and nature at these museums and galleries

Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, Museum of the Year winner 2022
Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, Museum of the Year winner 2022

If you're thinking of joining The Wild Escape, there are lots of ways to get involved and explore the natural world in museums and galleries. Find animals depicted in art, see real species or go searching in the wild yourself at these great places.

Why not count the deer at Holkham Hall, find your favourite creature in the Natural History Museum’s collection or spot fish in Bolton Museum’s tranquil aquarium?

Adults and children alike will find lots to discover in our top picks of places to visit for some nature inspiration.

And don’t forget, you’ll get fantastic benefits when you visit with a National Art Pass.

Looking for family fun in museums? Take part in The Wild Escape – a creative project inspiring kids to discover nature and wildlife in museums. Find a Wild Escape event near you.

Giraffe in the Animal World gallery
Giraffe in the Animal World gallery

National Museum of Scotland

In the collection at the National Museum of Scotland you’ll find sea mammals such as dolphins, porpoises and whales, and a lovely collection of minerals. Downloadable museum trails help you find nature all over the museum, including the Rewilding Trail where you can explore the history of Scotland’s native creatures, including salmon and eagles.

Natural History Museum, the Whale Hall, © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
Natural History Museum, the Whale Hall, © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Natural History Museum

This iconic London museum explores 4.6 billion years of life on Earth. Here you can learn about the prehistoric era through to the natural world of today, and see fascinating exhibitions about animals, science, plant life and more. An annual highlight is the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, showcasing the very best in nature photography from around the world.

The gallery at Nature in Art
The gallery at Nature in Art

Nature in Art

Uniquely, everything in the art collection inside this Georgian mansion in Gloucestershire takes its inspiration from nature. Works of art by the likes of Picasso and glassmaker Lalique feature among watercolours, ceramics, oil paintings and more. The gallery also hosts exhibitions that explore the intersection of wildlife and creativity, as well as family events and creative courses.


Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Have you ever seen a Japanese spider crab or marvelled at meteorites as old as the solar system? There are 20 varied displays at this museum that dive into the history of nature and the planet. Explore collections of palaeontology, insects and mineralogy, or uncover everything from extinct sea creatures and real-life whale skeletons to a teeny-tiny fish lizard.

World Museum, dinosaur skeleton in the atrium

World Museum

The World Museum in Liverpool is home to creatures hailing from the heights of the skies to the depths of the ocean. A fluid-preserved vertebrate collection includes unusual species of lizards, snakes and frogs, and you can get up close to your favourite creepy-crawlies in the Bug House.

Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, Museum of the Year winner 2022

Horniman Museum and Gardens

This South London haven is home to a butterfly house, aquarium and gorgeous gardens – swap the hustle and bustle of city life for some quality time with nature. In the Natural History Gallery you’ll find creatures of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the extinct Dodo to the iconic walrus, and there’s also a Nature Trail around the gardens so you can seek out wildlife yourself and enjoy the outdoors.

Natural History Museum (Colchester), The Climate Change and Geology Gallery

Natural History Museum (Colchester)

Discover the history and habitats of creatures great and small at this Colchester museum, and explore objects pertaining to climate change, biodiversity and more. Interactive displays offer the chance to get stuck in and explore local wildlife – listen to the roar of an ancient mammoth or discover a time when hippos roamed in Colchester!

Lapworth Museum of Geology, Museum of the Year finalist, 2017. MOTY 2017. CP0064
Lapworth Museum of Geology, interior

Lapworth Museum of Geology

While this museum is primarily dedicated to the study of rocks, fossils and minerals, it also houses sizeable collections related to wildlife. Explore the connections between the Earth and the life that inhabits it through intriguing specimens such as fossilised fauna, carboniferous flora, vertebrates and invertebrates.

Picture by Chris Bull for Manchester Museum
The Fossils Gallery at Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum

Spot plants from around the world, explore a bug’s life and roam the animal kingdom at Manchester Museum, with vast collections of botany, entomology and zoology. Plus, the museum’s events programme often includes a few nature-inspired gems exploring themes such as conservation.

Holkham Hall exterior with deer
Holkham Hall exterior with deer

Holkham Hall

On the sweeping North Norfolk coast, Holkham Hall is a known hotspot for herds of deer. See the stags and does that roam the land and explore the historic woodland full of wildlife. Holkham Hall is just a short way from the beach, where, if you’re lucky, you might spy a seal or two.

Museum staff showing artefacts.

Bolton Museum & Aquarium

Find freshwater fish galore in Greater Manchester’s only public aquarium. Originally opened in 1941, the aquarium is now home to over 70 varieties of fish from the UK and around the world. Discover toothy piranhas and one of the smallest fish in the world, the pygmy glass, and learn all about aquatic conservation.

Ulster Museum, Natural Sciences Collection
Ulster Museum, Natural Sciences Collection

Ulster Museum

Known for its vast natural science collection, at Ulster Museum you can find marine life, insects, plants and birds, and many exhibits that have been found in and around Northern Ireland. A particular highlight is the Deep Time gallery – embark on a journey through the history of planet Earth, touch a piece of the oldest rock in Ireland and explore the environment today.

Please note this is an example card and not a reflection of the final product

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