Dawnosaurs The Natural History Museum

Overview: 

“Dawnosaurs is a free event for children on the autism spectrum to enjoy the Museum with their families and siblings, free from the hustle and bustle of the general public. Visitors have access to a wide-ranging programme of activities, including a chance to see, meet and even touch live animals. All activities are supported by experienced, autism-aware facilitators.A dedicated Sensory Room will also be available for those children needing a quieter and calmer space. This event is best for children aged five to 15, and siblings are welcome.”

Review by Nina:  

I applied for tickets at the beginning of August, having previously registered to receive emails about forthcoming events you can register to receive emails by completing this form on the link below:

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/contact-us/forms/emailform.jsp?recip=dawnosaurs&business_title=Dawnosaurs&email_title=Dawnosaurs+enquiry&_ga=2.30198650.496769788.1551710437-276153366.1525942149

To apply for tickets I had to answer a few questions about my children and their interests and needs. Priority is given to families who have not previously attended one of the Dawnosaurs sessions.
We found out three weeks before the event that we had been allocated places. Comprehensive pre-visit information,  including a visual guide for children, a description of the various activities on offer and audio files of sounds that might be heard on the day (including the hand dryers and the roaring T-Rex) were emailed out one week before the event. I was so impressed with the level of detail provided in the pre-event information and the amount of thought and effort that had clearly gone in to them.
On the day we arrived at 08 30 (the doors opened at 08 00) the staff quickly checked our names off the list and gave us a map and dinosaur badges for the children. As my children are quite young they were more interested in exploring the amazing space (wide open corridors and lots of stairs are always a big hit!) and looking briefly at some of the larger exhibits as opposed to studying things in much detail.
We didn’t take part in any of the special activities that were on offer which included animal handling, drawing, meeting scientists, marine biologists and exploring different areas of the museum but had my children been older I’m sure they would have really enjoyed them.
We did venture down to the Investigate Centre where we were told we could touch everything! We all enjoyed putting things under the microscopes and handling the different objects on offer including animal horns, fossils and an alligator skull.One of the highlights for my children was seeing ‘Andy’s Clock’ in the foyer. It’s an exact replica of the one used in the Andy’s CBeebies shows and is a really lovely touch.
Although we could have stayed on for as long as we wanted, we left just before 10 00 when the museum opened to the public. I was amazed by how huge the queue was which highlighted just how special it had been to explore the Museum when it was so much quieter.
The staff at the Museum absolutely made the event for us, they went out of their way to help us and were proactive in offering guidance and directions. They communicated brilliantly with my children and seemed genuinely happy to welcome them to the Museum and to see them enjoying the event.
Further details: 
You can apply online for a place at Dawnosaurs three to four weeks before each event.
The next Dawnosaurs will be held on 15 December 2019.
Frequently asked questions: 
Who is this event for?Dawnosaurs events are suitable for children on the autism spectrum between the ages of five and 15. Saturday clubs and out-of-school clubs are also welcome.

When are the events?

On particular weekends throughout the year we open the Museum early at 8.00. Not all areas of the Museum will be open during Dawnosaurs. Our interactive Investigate science centre and the adjacent Sensory Room remain open exclusively to booked Dawnosaurs guests until 11.00.

How does it work?

To join the mailing list, please contact us. You will be notified when bookings are open before each event.We will email more information about your visit a week in advance, to help you prepare your child for your visit. On the day you will be given a programme and map to let you know what you can do.At 10.00 the Museum will be open to the general public. At this point you are welcome to stay and explore other galleries that were not available during Dawnosaurs. Some areas will remain exclusively for Dawnosaurs guests until 11.00.

Is there a cost?

The events are free.

Do I need to book?

Places are limited so booking is essential. Adult tickets are limited to three per group.