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Richard Fortey

Dry Store Room No 1

In his wanderings behind the scenes of the Natural History Museum Richard Fortey came across a room full of objects which don't quite fit anywhere, but which no one could bring themselves to throw away. But that isn't what this book is about. The room reminded Fortey of the sort of memories which come from working in the such a place for several decades. In Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum he tells us of some of these memories.

We hear about some of the characters who made their mark in museum life, during Fortey's time and before. There's the eradication of the new world screw worm fly from Africa, and the unmasking of the Piltdown forgery. There's the reclassification of truffles and the analysis of meteorites from Mars. And there's all sorts of after hours goings-on (especially in Dry Store Room No. 1). Fortey also tells of his fears regarding the direction in which museums may be going. As the competition for research funding gets tougher, museums find it harder to do the vital work of investigating and classifying species, and there is the tendency for museums to concentrate more on entertaining visitors.

Some people might feel that the chapters are rather too long and rambling, but I thought that it was a fascinating book and is well worth reading, whether you are interested in the natural history aspect or just in a behind the scenes look at a great British institution. info
Hardcover 352 pages  
ISBN: 0307263622
Salesrank: 1350570
Published: 2008 Knopf
Amazon price $23.64
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Hardcover 352 pages  
ISBN: 0007209886
Salesrank: 133656
Weight:1.68 lbs
Published: 2008 HarperPress
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Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 0007209894
Salesrank: 434068
Weight:0.66 lbs
Published: 2008 Harper Perennial
Amazon price CDN$ 12.61
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Product Description
Richard Fortey—one of the world’s most gifted natural scientists and acclaimed author of Life, Trilobite and Earth—describes this splendid new book as a museum of the mind. But it is, as well, a perfect behind-the-scenes guide to a legendary place. Within its pages, London’s Natural History Museum, a home of treasures—plants from the voyage of Captain Cook, barnacles to which Charles Darwin devoted years of study, hidden accursed jewels—pulses with life and miraculous surprises. In an elegant and illuminating narrative, Fortey acquaints the reader with the extraordinary people, meticulous research and driving passions that helped to create the timeless experiences of wonder that fill the museum. And with the museum’s hallways and collection rooms providing a dazzling framework, Fortey offers an often eye-opening social history of the scientific accomplishments of the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Fortey’s scholarship dances with wit. Here is a book that is utterly entertaining from its first page to its last.