It is a hugely popular attraction with parents wanting to teach their children about science and the living world - and an important research institution in its own right.
But now the Natural History Museum is turning its attention to the origins of Harry Potter author JK Rowling's fictional creatures, such as the Niffler and the Demiguise.
A new paid-for exhibition at the London museum, called Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature, will showcase 'creatures from the natural, mythical and the wizarding world' to explore how legends and stories have been inspired by the real world.
Wizarding world specimens will include an Erumpent horn from the Harry Potter films, and the dragon skull from Professor Lupin's classroom.
Roberto Portela Miguez and Efstratia Verveniotou, scientists at the Natural History Museum, collect an Erumpent horn from the Harry Potter films for the Natural History Museum's major new exhibition 'Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature', which will open spring 2020
The new exhibition at the Natural History Museum (pictured), inspired by the Harry Potter books and films, will showcase creatures from the natural, mythical and the wizarding world
A mythical Erumpent from the film 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'. The horn from the fictional creature will be showcased at the Natural History Museum
Meanwhile, a giant oarfish, the world's longest bony fish, which is thought to be the inspiration for mythical sea serpents, will feature from the real world.
Visitors will be able to 'compare the camouflage tactics of a jaguar to that of the wizarding world's Demiguise and the mating rituals of the peacock spider to the wizarding world's Erumpent'.
The exhibition will also feature in an accompanying new BBC One documentary presented by Stephen Fry, to 'show how closely real world animals, mythological creatures and wizarding world beasts are intertwined'.
Fry, who narrated the Harry Potter audio books, said: 'I could not be more delighted to be a part of this magnificent opportunity for us Muggles to show the wizarding world that the fantastic beasts in our world are more than a match for theirs.'
'We hope to be able to bring you closer than you've ever been to some of the