Firstly WOW, what an experience!! There are very few butterfly houses left to visit in England and certainly not in the London area (The 'London Butterfly House' at Syon Park sadly closed in 2007). Whether or not your children take an interest in entomology, I personally think being surrounded by beautiful colourful exotic butterflies is a wonderful experience for boys and girls of all ages. And certainly something everyone should have the opportunity to experience at least once in their lifetime!
On an educational level (as would be expected of the NHM) the different species of butterflies and moths living inside the exhibit is clearly shown on an identification board, a few steps into the butterfly house itself...
As you can see from my picture, you really do get up close and personal with the butterflies, and they do with you! This curious little 'Hypolimnas bolina' came to photo bomb my picture...hehe.
Children are given little cards of the 'stages of a butterfly' which they are encouraged to stamp with pictures at stamping stations throughout the pathway around the butterfly house. Towards the end of the pathway there is also a large display of hanging caterpillar cocoons - which if you are lucky you may see butterflies emerging from. Once again adding to the educational value of the exhibit. And something that most school-age children are familiar with.
Considering that we visited during the busy summer school holidays, I would say that it was well managed, with a handful of knowledgeable staff dotted around to speak to/ask questions to and although crowded within the exhibit, people walked through the pathway at a reasonable pace - considering there are hundreds of butterflies to stop and look at, constantly fluttering all over the place, caterpillars to spot camouflaged in the fauna and resting butterflies to admire. We really enjoyed looking at the different patterns on resting butterflies once they spread their wings open as a pose to the pattern on the underside of their wings when closed. We also had several butterflies land on us! Which was of course what most people are hoping for, and quite a special moment for children :) (Top Tip for encouraging this - wear brightly coloured clothes!!!)
Was it worth the price? It most certainly was! We spent almost half an hour in here and we paid £5.50 per adult & children over 4 (which includes a voluntary donation to NHM), children under 4 years are free. And family tickets (4 people) are available for £19. We loved it so much that we most definitely plan to visit again before the exhibit closes on 14th September. And if you do decide to visit, don't forget to take a trip into to the NHM, Science Museum or V&A Museum afterwards... all of which are free and no more than a 5 min walk from here.