What Is A Natural History Museum And What Is Its Significance?
The Museum first opened its doors on 18 April , but its origins stretch back to and the career of Sir Hans Sloane, a doctor and collector. Sloane travelled the world as a high society physician. He collected natural history specimens and cultural artefacts along the way. Jun 17, · At that time the National Museum held about ten million artifacts and specimens, and most of them were moved into the new building using horse-drawn carts. Curators of anthropology, art, geology, history, and natural history moved into the spacious new facilities and soon filled every nook and cranny with new collections.
Other Episodes of Interest:. Elizabeth: Before motion pictures, reliable camera natursl, Google- the only way scientists hiistory impart the enormous breadth and scope of the natural world, besides hand written notes and sketch drawings, was to bring physical specimens back from the field and into the laboratory or museum. This included shooting and skinning animals, birds and reptiles, it included preserving delicate marine organisms in bottles of alcohol, yistory included pressing and drying plants, and accumulating pounds and pounds of rocks and fossils.
Early scientific expeditions typically returned with staggering amounts of objects from the field. The rest—often hundreds of thousands of specimens—is catalogued and stored away, inaccessible to the public.
Unlike exhibit quality taxidermy, scientific specimens, like study skins, are prepared to be uniform and compact, how to take out small car dents to fit and be stored in tiny museum drawers.
Study skins provide a wealth of information about the external characteristics of an animal. With a large enough collection one can see the range of a species from geography, age, changing seasons, and even the time period. One large collection of a species of birds for instance could show all of the subtle changes in plumage over the seasons.
The visible portion of the museum is typically for the public. To excite and inspire. Many natural history museums, in America musuem in the western world, were developed during the nineteenth century. These museums are both places to view and understand nature, they are also places that have a history in themselves.
Museum goers look at dioramas of rare or hisgory taxidermied animals, perhaps realizing that some of those animals behind glass were among the last of their what was the natural history museum before, solemnly gunned down so that they might not be totally lost to us here in the 21st century and beyond. Today we will be discussing the history of natural history museums in America and the Western World.
Marissa: Collections what happens when hemoglobin is high natural curiosities can be traced back to paleolithic times.
People collect stuff. Elizabeth: The word museum has classical origins. Marissa: Many Chinese emperors promoted the arts which manifested in fine works of painting, calligraphy, metalwork, jade, glass, and pottery. Elizabeth: At roughly the same time, Islamic communities were making collections of relics at the tombs of early Muslim martyrs.
The Medici family was a political dynasty and later a royal house founded on banking, wealth, and patronage. The family controlled Florence for centuries, so much so that four Medici men became popes of the Catholic Church. Elizabeth: Cosimo Medici, or Cosimo I became a passionate collector of antiquities and rare objects. His collection was carried on and built upon by his descendants. In order to display some of the Medici paintings, the upper floor of the Uffizi Palace designed to hold offices, or uffizi was converted and opened to the public in Marissa: By the end of the sixteenth century, establishing a musaeum was common across Europe in courtly circles.
They took on different what was the natural history museum before and names whxt to the settings and collections: pandechion, studiolo, gabinetto, wunderkammer, galleria, and kunstkammer.
Elizabeth: An early naturalist was a Danish physician, Olaus Worm whose Museum Wormianum in held buckets and bins of crystals whah piles of dried pufferfish. He had dried snake skins on the walls as well as a stuffed lemur, iguanas and an armadillo. Stuffed birds, fish and a shark hung from the ceiling. Marissa: The great voyages of exploration during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were what really pushed the interest in collecting natural history artifacts, or natural curiosities.
Th collectors prized the strange and unusual. Aesthetics determined the layout of early museums more than say region, or function. So a stuffed alligator might live next to an ostrich egg. Elizabeth: Inwith the publication of the encyclopaedic Systema Naturae, Carl Linnaeus attempted to classify nature.
Linnaeus was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist, who created the modern system of naming organisms called binomial nomenclature. The Linnaean system classified nature within a nested hierarchy, starting with three kingdoms. Kingdoms were divided into classes and they, in turn, into orders, and thence into genera singular: genuswhich were divided into Species singular: species. Linnaeus recorded the sense of wonder evoked by the astonishing colors, extremes of size, and unique structures in the natural world.
Scientists, both professional and layperson, set about naming and categorizing animal and plant how to do an invention. Creative Commons.
The collection was displayed in London beginning in and passed through various owners until finally being dismantled in The contents of the museum were well recorded, from a catalog of the museum created inand the sale catalog fromand a contemporary series of watercolors of its contents painted by British naturalist, Sarah Stone.
The watercolors show glass-fronted display cases containing thousands of mammals and birds including flamingos, sloths, a kangaroo and a full-size Asian elephant. Elizabeth: The nineteenth century saw an enormous increase in the popularity of studying nature.
With the exploration and movement west, Americans of all social status had access to nature. Marissa: One of the grandfathers of modern natural history is John James Audubon. Audubon naturql born in in Saint-Dominque modern Haiti. Audubon Sr. He became obsessed with studying and painting wild birds. There was no formal training in ornithology, he taught himself the scientific study of birds.
He shot birds he wanted how to write test cases in java using testng study, then took them back to his studio where he propped them up on twigs and sticks and painted them while they were still fresh.
He conducted the first known bird-banding in America by tying yarn to the legs hidtory eastern phoebes. By doing this he determined that they returned to the same nesting spots year after year.
He also made an enormous collection of study skins which he used as a reference collection when creating his paintings of birds. He won renown as the foremost US museun for The Birds of America, produced between andwhich included over 1, lifesize pictures of about species.
Afterhe primarily resided in Edinburgh, Scotland, and produced an Ornithological Biography, which consisted of five volumes produced between andand Synopsis of the Birds of North America in The society also does conservation work. You musem check that out at audubon. Marissa: One of the earliest natural history museums in America was put together by a well-to-do Pennsylvanian named Charles Wilson Peale. After the revolution he opened a gallery were he displayed and sold portraits of famous revolutionaries.
He began to add natural history artifacts to his displays and soon decided to devote his attention to creating a natural history museum. There were few books or resources available on taxidermy during the time hhistory Peale mostly taught himself how to skin and stuff animals for display.
Because Peale was foremost an artist, he began making elaborate displays for the taxidermy he created. The collection grew and soon was moved to Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was mudeum. Later his brand of museum opened in Baltimore and New York. Unfortunately Peale struggled financially and he had to sell his collections.
Elizabeth: A lot of his collection was sold to P. Barnum yes that P. Barnum — of circus fame- whom many considered to be a sham and a huckster. He covered it with brightly colored banners and giant colorful posters from top to bottom. There was even a taxidermy shop where for a fee, you could drop off your dead pet and have it stuffed and ready to take home by the end of the day. Marissa: Inside he had the first floor gallery filled with glass cases, or cabinets, of stuffed animals.
He was ,useum for showcasing outlandish hoaxes and made it no secret that part of the fun of the museum was not really knowing what was real and what was fake. For Barnum this was all part of his showman schtick, and all in good fun. However, real naturalists were infuriated. Barnum was making a farce of their science.
One was of course, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. Elizabeth: The Smithsonian Institution came into existence through the remarkable bequest of nearly one-half million dollars in from James Smithson, an Englishman. Each crate was filled with a thousand pounds of gold.
No one was sure what this institution should natkral. Some argued that it should be a national observatory; others said it should be a university, a library, perhaps a museum- this all produced a bit of a stalemate.
He wanted the new institution to hisotry the caretaker of the collections from the United States Exploring Expedition. Besides establishing a stronger diplomatic presence throughout the Pacific, the Expedition sought to provide much-needed charts to American whalers, sealers, and China traders throughout the Pacific ocean. The Ex Ex was conducted under the direction of Charles Wilkes.
One of the naturalists on board was Titian Peale, the son of Charles Wilson Peale whose natural history collections had been sold off to P. Titian How to do a downy dunk had already accompanied expeditions to Florida and the West. He was a capable artist and an excellent naturalist hunter. The Ex Ex brought back tons of artifacts. Elizabeth: In the U. The U.
Henry was part of a young group chop suey what is it scientists who were replacing the amateur collectors of the previous era. He envisioned the institution as a place for the practice of new science. He wanted space for laboratories and wanted the publication of scientific results. He did not want the resources of the endowment to maintain the display of a substantial collection of artifacts that would require a large, expensive building and a sizeable staff.
One of his first moves was to refuse the Ex Ex collection and so it stayed at the Patent office. Marissa: Byit was clear that Henry needed an assistant to handle museum matters.
The first museum curator hired was a man named Spencer Baird. Baird had always been a naturalist collector.
Significance of Natural History Museums
Apr 30, · In fact, before he married his first wife Alice, he dismantled his collection and sent most of the specimens to the Smithsonian Institute and the New York American Museum of Natural History. When he did so though, he was just like hundreds of other amateur naturalists around the world who regularly donated their specimens to natural history. Feb 07, · marked the establishment of a natural history museum which would serve as the model for the present day museums of the same kind. This was the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (National Museum of Natural History) in Paris. However, it was not until that the general public was admitted into such museums.
The Natural History Museum in London is a natural history museum that exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history. The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany , entomology , mineralogy , palaeontology and zoology.
The museum is a centre of research specialising in taxonomy , identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin. The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate architecture—sometimes dubbed a cathedral of nature —both exemplified by the large Diplodocus cast that dominated the vaulted central hall before it was replaced in with the skeleton of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling.
The Natural History Museum Library contains extensive books, journals, manuscripts, and artwork collections linked to the work and research of the scientific departments; access to the library is by appointment only. The museum is recognised as the pre-eminent centre of natural history and research of related fields in the world. Although commonly referred to as the Natural History Museum, it was officially known as British Museum Natural History until , despite legal separation from the British Museum itself in Originating from collections within the British Museum, the landmark Alfred Waterhouse building was built and opened by and later incorporated the Geological Museum.
The Darwin Centre is a more recent addition, partly designed as a modern facility for storing the valuable collections. Like other publicly funded national museums in the United Kingdom, the Natural History Museum does not charge an admission fee. The foundation of the collection was that of the Ulster doctor Sir Hans Sloane — , who allowed his significant collections to be purchased by the British Government at a price well below their market value at the time.
This purchase was funded by a lottery. Sloane's collection, which included dried plants, and animal and human skeletons, was initially housed in Montagu House, Bloomsbury , in , which was the home of the British Museum.
Most of the Sloane collection had disappeared by the early decades of the nineteenth century. Dr George Shaw Keeper of Natural History — sold many specimens to the Royal College of Surgeons and had periodic cremations of material in the grounds of the museum. His successors also applied to the trustees for permission to destroy decayed specimens. The inability of the natural history departments to conserve its specimens became notorious: the Treasury refused to entrust it with specimens collected at the government's expense.
Appointments of staff were bedevilled by gentlemanly favouritism; in a nephew of the mistress of a Trustee was appointed Entomological Assistant despite not knowing the difference between a butterfly and a moth. Gray Keeper of Zoology — complained of the incidence of mental illness amongst staff: George Shaw threatened to put his foot on any shell not in the 12th edition of Linnaeus ' Systema Naturae ; another had removed all the labels and registration numbers from entomological cases arranged by a rival.
The huge collection of the conchologist Hugh Cuming was acquired by the museum, and Gray's own wife had carried the open trays across the courtyard in a gale: all the labels blew away. That collection is said never to have recovered. The Principal Librarian at the time was Antonio Panizzi ; his contempt for the natural history departments and for science in general was total. The general public was not encouraged to visit the museum's natural history exhibits. Many of these faults were corrected by the palaeontologist Richard Owen , appointed Superintendent of the natural history departments of the British Museum in His changes led Bill Bryson to write that "by making the Natural History Museum an institution for everyone, Owen transformed our expectations of what museums are for".
Owen saw that the natural history departments needed more space, and that implied a separate building as the British Museum site was limited. Land in South Kensington was purchased, and in a competition was held to design the new museum.
The winning entry was submitted by the civil engineer Captain Francis Fowke , who died shortly afterwards. The space these would have occupied are now taken by the Earth Galleries and Darwin Centre. Work began in and was completed in The new museum opened in , although the move from the old museum was not fully completed until Both the interiors and exteriors of the Waterhouse building make extensive use of architectural terracotta tiles to resist the sooty atmosphere of Victorian London, manufactured by the Tamworth-based company of Gibbs and Canning Limited.
The tiles and bricks feature many relief sculptures of flora and fauna, with living and extinct species featured within the west and east wings respectively. This explicit separation was at the request of Owen, and has been seen as a statement of his contemporary rebuttal of Darwin's attempt to link present species with past through the theory of natural selection. The sculptures were produced from clay models by a French sculptor based in London, M Dujardin, working to drawings prepared by the architect.
These all form part of the complex known colloquially as Albertopolis. Even after the opening, the Natural History Museum legally remained a department of the British Museum with the formal name British Museum Natural History , usually abbreviated in the scientific literature as B. A petition to the Chancellor of the Exchequer was made in , signed by the heads of the Royal , Linnean and Zoological societies as well as naturalists including Darwin , Wallace and Huxley , asking that the museum gain independence from the board of the British Museum, and heated discussions on the matter continued for nearly one hundred years.
Finally, with the passing of the British Museum Act , the British Museum Natural History became an independent museum with its own board of trustees, although — despite a proposed amendment to the act in the House of Lords — the former name was retained. In the museum publicly re-branded itself as the Natural History Museum and stopped using the title British Museum Natural History on its advertising and its books for general readers. Only with the Museums and Galleries Act did the museum's formal title finally change to the Natural History Museum.
In , the museum absorbed the adjacent Geological Museum of the British Geological Survey , which had long competed for the limited space available in the area.
The Geological Museum became world-famous for exhibitions including an active volcano model and an earthquake machine designed by James Gardner , and housed the world's first computer-enhanced exhibition Treasures of the Earth.
The museum's galleries were completely rebuilt and relaunched in as The Earth Galleries , with the other exhibitions in the Waterhouse building retitled The Life Galleries. The Natural History Museum's own mineralogy displays remain largely unchanged as an example of the 19th-century display techniques of the Waterhouse building. The central atrium design by Neal Potter overcame visitors' reluctance to visit the upper galleries by "pulling" them through a model of the Earth made up of random plates on an escalator.
The new design covered the walls in recycled slate and sandblasted the major stars and planets onto the wall. The museum's 'star' geological exhibits are displayed within the walls.
Six iconic figures were the backdrop to discussing how previous generations have viewed Earth. These were later removed to make place for a Stegosaurus skeleton that was put on display in late The Darwin Centre named after Charles Darwin was designed as a new home for the museum's collection of tens of millions of preserved specimens, as well as new work spaces for the museum's scientific staff and new educational visitor experiences.
Built in two distinct phases, with two new buildings adjacent to the main Waterhouse building, it is the most significant new development project in the museum's history. Phase one of the Darwin Centre opened to the public in , and it houses the zoological department's 'spirit collections'—organisms preserved in alcohol.
Phase Two was unveiled in September and opened to the general public in September It was designed by the Danish architecture practice C. Arguably the most famous creature in the centre is the 8. As part of the museum's remit to communicate science education and conservation work, a new multimedia studio forms an important part of Darwin Centre Phase 2. In collaboration with the BBC's Natural History Unit holder of the largest archive of natural history footage the Attenborough Studio—named after the broadcaster Sir David Attenborough —provides a multimedia environment for educational events.
The studio holds regular lectures and demonstrations, including free Nature Live talks on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. One of the most famous and certainly most prominent of the exhibits—nicknamed " Dippy "—is a foot 32 m -long replica of a Diplodocus carnegii skeleton which was on display for many years within the central hall. The pieces were sent to London in 36 crates, and on 12 May , the exhibit was unveiled to great public and media interest. The real fossil had yet to be mounted, as the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh was still being constructed to house it.
As word of Dippy spread, Mr Carnegie paid to have additional copies made for display in most major European capitals and in Central and South America, making Dippy the most-viewed dinosaur skeleton in the world.
The dinosaur quickly became an iconic representation of the museum, and has featured in many cartoons and other media, including the Disney comedy One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing. After years on display at the museum, the dinosaur replica was removed in early to be replaced by the actual skeleton of a young blue whale , a year-old skeleton nicknamed "Hope".
The blue whale skeleton, Hope, that has replaced Dippy, is another prominent display in the museum. The display of the skeleton, some 82 feet 25 m long and weighing 4. The whale had been in storage for 42 years since its stranding on sandbanks at the mouth of Wexford Harbour , Ireland in March after being injured by whalers.
Discussion of the idea of a life-sized model also began around , and work was undertaken within the Whale Hall itself. Since taking a cast of such a large animal was deemed prohibitively expensive, scale models were used to meticulously piece the structure together. During construction, workmen left a trapdoor within the whale's stomach, which they would use for surreptitious cigarette breaks.
Before the door was closed and sealed forever, some coins and a telephone directory were placed inside—this soon growing to an urban myth that a time capsule was left inside. The work was completed—entirely within the hall and in view of the public—in At the time it was the largest such model in the world, at 92 feet 28 m in length.
The construction details were later borrowed by several American museums, who scaled the plans further. The Darwin Centre is host to Archie , an 8. The squid is not on general display, but stored in the large tank room in the basement of the Phase 1 building. It is possible for members of the public to visit and view non-exhibited items behind the scenes for a fee by booking onto one of the several Spirit Collection Tours offered daily.
Since few complete and reasonably fresh examples of the species exist, "wet storage" was chosen, leaving the squid undissected. The museum holds the remains and bones of the " River Thames whale ", a northern bottlenose whale that lost its way on 20 January and swam into the Thames. Although primarily used for research purposes, and held at the museum's storage site at Wandsworth. Dinocochlea , one of the longer-standing mysteries of paleontology originally thought to be a giant gastropod shell , then a coprolite , and now a concretion of a worm's tunnel , has been part of the collection since its discovery in The museum keeps a wildlife garden on its west lawn, on which a potentially new species of insect resembling Arocatus roeselii was discovered in The museum is divided into four sets of galleries, or zones, each colour coded to follow a broad theme.
This is the zone that can be entered from Exhibition Road, on the East side of the building. It is a gallery themed around the changing history of the Earth. Earth's Treasury shows specimens of rocks, minerals and gemstones behind glass in a dimly lit gallery. Lasting Impressions is a small gallery containing specimens of rocks, plants and minerals, of which most can be touched.
This zone is accessed from the Cromwell Road entrance via the Hintze Hall and follows the theme of the evolution of the planet. Enables the public to see science at work and also provides spaces for relaxation and contemplation. Accessible from Queens Gate.
The museum runs a series of educational and public engagement programmes. These include for example a highly praised "How Science Works" hands on workshop for school students demonstrating the use of microfossils in geological research. In , the museum launched a project to develop notable gallery characters to patrol display cases, including 'facsimiles' of Carl Linnaeus , Mary Anning , Dorothea Bate and William Smith.
They tell stories and anecdotes of their lives and discoveries and aim to surprise visitors. In , a six-part BBC documentary series was filmed at the museum entitled Museum of Life exploring the history and behind the scenes aspects of the museum.
Since May , the Natural History Museum admission has been free for some events and permanent exhibitions.
However, there are certain temporary exhibits and shows that require a fee.