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MasterCard Priceless Night: East End Evening at the Natural History Museum

Published 26 March 2013

‘Why, why, why – Delilah?’, bellowed the flat cap-donning, tweed-bedecked Cockney geezer by the wooden upright piano, beckoning visitors closer with kazoo in hand.

People stood around this spectacle, tankards full, joining in with the odd bop and chant. The smell of fish and chips lingered around the hall, candles flickering with their faint glow. This wasn’t your typical East End knees- up at your local London boozer however – this was an evening of Cockney revelry at the one-and-only Natural History Museum in South Kensington.

mastercard priceless natural history museum

The evening was one of a number of on-going events as part of MasterCard’s Priceless Nights series. MasterCard – one of the world’s leading card payment transaction companies – give their cardholders access to exclusive offers, discounts and experiences via The Priceless scheme. The scheme, which has extended across the globe, is now attached to sixteen cities including New York, Istanbul, Rio and of course, London. New cities are constantly being added to the Priceless line-up to enable MasterCard holders to make the most of being abroad as well as at home. With MasterCard as ‘your key to the city’, cardholders can receive bumper discounts off fine dining experiences and theatre trips for example, and can enter prize draws for intimate gigs and unusual events such as the National History Museum’s East End Evening.

priceless night at NHM

Having frequented the Natural History Museum on numerous occasions beforehand, including during the ever-popular ‘Late Nights’ season, I can say that this was without a doubt one of the best events that I have been to at the gorgeous Victorian Romanesque building. From the outset, one could tell that the night held lots of promise. There were cute little details that added quirkiness and charm to the proceedings, including lanterns leading up the front stairs into Central Hall and the hanging pub sign, situated at the front of the hall-cum-pub marked ‘The Chip and Pin’ (see pictures) – a cheeky but fun nod to the sponsors of the evening.

chip and pin pub

Small group talks were given by some of the museum’s experts, including Dr Mark Spencer (Botany), Richard Sabin (Mammals) and Simon Parfitt (Archaeology). All of the talks were equally engaging, with the scientists adding a dash of personality and fun as they spoke passionately about their work and the museum itself. During the course of the evening, the staff allowed guests to hold 20,000 year-old mammoth fur, centuries-old hyena excrement, and to sniff mammoth intestine. People thoroughly enjoyed getting up close and personal with the objects, of which not all are on display. Equally enjoyable was a visit to the relatively new Treasures gallery and a fascinating talk about the importance of the museum’s contributions during World War II.

mastercard priceless talks at NHM

woolly mammoth at natural history museum

In between the talks, guests were treated to starters, drinks, dinner and dessert. The best nibbles included the beef-filled, mini Yorkshire puddings with fiery horseradish sauce, ginger and blueberry crumble and crisp, battered fish with chunky chips (presented in newspaper, naturally). Being a Cockney knees-up, offerings of eel and rabbit canapés were also available for the more adventurous!

If you’re a MasterCard customer, make the most of your plastic and check out the Priceless scheme for exclusive offers and opportunities to go to once-in-a lifetime events. Who knows – you might get the chance to see a familiar place in a completely different light.