Prehistoric DIY

The Brussels Natural Sciences Museum – apart from being living proof that Belgium basically INVENTED THE DINOSAUR – often has brilliant exhibitions. For anyone dinosaur inclined, the permanent “Paléo-LAB” is well worth a visit sometime: it’s a sort of Generation Game with dinosaurs where you get, among other things, a box of enormous bones from which you are instructed to build a .. what’s the thing with the plates on its back? Is that a stegosaurus? Whatever, it’s fun.

The current temporary exhibition – “Prehistory – Do It Yourself” – is also vastly entertaining. There are four sort of workshop thingies, where you get to try and do prehistoric stuff: make your own flint, hunt buffalo and bear, make a necklace out of slate and, er, tendons, and best of all MAKE FIRE. Seriously, where else would you be allowed to make actual, real, fire in a museum with one of the world’s most impressive collections of paleontological specimens? Nowhere, I wager.

Here is my flint. Good, isn’t it?

And this is a nice lady telling my son how to kill buffalo. We managed to dislodge one of the giant foam buffalo’s horns and experienced significant tribe pride.

This is the necklace making workshop. You drill a hole in your slate with a flint. Bloody hell, prehistoric life was laborious but some of those animal skins were COSY.

The very best of all though was the fire.

This is my eldest son being far better than me at using his flint to make sparks with his pyrite and setting fire to a tiny pile of fungus scrapings (seriously, what did you do this Sunday? “Oh, we set fire to some fungus”).

Then you added your smoking fungus to a pile of straw and blew on it.


The demonstrators were all delightful and enthusiastic and kind and the children were rapt and have been wearing their slate necklaces ever since. The rest of the exhibition is quite entertaining, especially if you like poorly stuffed creatures which frankly, I can’t get enough of. I made a friend:

Prehistory DIY runs until 26 May 2013 and costs €9,50 for adults and €7 for children, including admission to the rest of the museum. 

(Go upstairs and find the room with the CREEPY LIVE INSECTS)

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