From mushroom gnats to amethysts, botanical prints to vertebrae,
the ordinary rests alongside the extraordinary in Dry Storeroom No. 1,
The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum.
Cornell's boxes, the book presents a cloistered world with all the eccentric
curiosities inherent in the process of acquiring, labeling, and storing
Once viewed as markers of civilization, museums were a gentleman's pastime.
Fortey's passing references to the British Empire could make it seem as though
century game trophies were on a par with women's genteel
watercolors, but despite any omissions regarding colonialism or the ethics of
hunting abroad for collections, the book maintains a charm difficult to
Rather than dwelling on the unsavory aspects of museum-makingat one point...
Beyond the Book
Entomology: Did You Know?
Entomology is the scientific study of insects. Defining characteristics
of insects are: three main body parts (head, thorax and abdomen), an
exoskeleton and no more than 6 legs in their adult form.
"The geneticist J.B.S. Haldane remarked, when questioned by a cleric
about the putative properties of God, that one sure characteristic of the
Almighty would be "an inordinate fondness for beetles". Of the 1.3 million known species, about two-thirds are insects and one-fifth are beetles.
"There are an estimated twenty-eight million insect specimens in the
Natural History Museum, including about a quarter of a million type
specimens." (A type specimen being the definitive example of a species