|The Natural History Museum Annual Review 2003 | 2004|
|Introduction||The Director's Review||Our Year||World Class Science|
|Opening Up the Collection||Darwin Centre Innovation||3 Million+ Visitors||A Place for Learning|
|Working for Us||Looking Ahead||Our Supporters||Financial Review|
|Corporate Governance||Previous Years' Reports|
|(Annual Report Home - graphics and PDF)|
|The Director's Review|
This has been a year of change and renewal at the Natural History Museum. A fresh chapter has opened - new ideas and initiatives are being explored, new strategies have been developed, and new people have joined us to take up key management positions.
Building on our successes. We had much to celebrate in 2003/04. A record 3.1 million visitors came to South Kensington and Tring to enjoy such popular exhibitions as T. rex: The Killer Question and The Egg: The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe. We welcomed record numbers of 'virtual' visitors too - there were more than 7.7 million visits to our website. The Darwin Centre Phase One, which opened in 2002 to such acclaim, continued to attract wide interest and we are now well on the way to raising the funds we need for Phase Two. We took great pride in the two Large Visitor Attraction of the Year awards that we won, in the London Tourism Awards 2003 and the Excellence in England Awards 2004.
Our scientists continued to work with global partners to create new knowledge about the natural world. Our appointment as coordinator for SYNTHESYS, the new integrated infrastructure initiative involving the leading European natural history institutions, was a significant achievement and confirmed our standing as a world leader in the management of collections and collections-based information.
But the Museum cannot stand still. This was also a year of re-appraisal, and the strategies we developed during the year will ensure that we continue to evolve and innovate.
A multi-faceted institution. The Museum is many things. It is a world class collection of natural history specimens and artworks, a centre of scientific excellence, a learning resource, and an iconic building as well as one of the UK's leading visitor destinations. To raise our performance in each of these roles, we have evolved an interlinked set of plans for the future: the Visitor Offer Strategy, the Learning Strategy, Masterplan, and the Science Vision.
The Visitor Offer Strategy is our blueprint for improving the visitor experience, for example by refreshing our permanent displays and developing imaginative special exhibitions that attract new and more diverse audiences. The Learning Strategy expresses our ambition to create exciting programmes that engage people and inspire discovery of the natural world. Masterplan provides a framework for the future conservation and development of our South Kensington site.
The science of natural diversity. The Science Vision is the key to our future as an international centre for the study of the natural world. Our science is founded on the unique collection, which we see as a research infrastructure and a model of the diversity of the natural world. It is one of the world's great collections, of immense and increasing importance to research scientists around the world.
Our scientists have an important public role, providing authoritative information about the natural world. We are privileged to have so many scientists of international repute on our staff. They are in constant media demand for comment on topical issues, not as advocates for environmental or other causes but as objective communicators of knowledge about the natural world.
New appointments. We welcomed several new people to senior positions. Dr Richard Lane became Director of Science in August 2003, succeeding Professor Paul Henderson who retired after eight very successful years leading our research and curatorial teams - a period during which the Museum enormously enhanced its reputation for scientific excellence. Another key appointment was Dr Honor Gay as our new Head of Learning.
In my first few months as Director, I have been greatly impressed by the dedication of the Museum's staff and volunteers - their passion for the Museum and their willingness to contribute beyond the normal call of duty is truly admirable.
I have also been encouraged by the great esteem and affection in which the Museum is held, both in the UK and internationally. This was independently confirmed in Treasurehouse & Powerhouse1, the highly informative report into the Museum's scientific, cultural and economic value.
I am immensely grateful to the outgoing director, Sir Neil Chalmers, for his wise counsel, and to the Museum's management team who have been most supportive during my induction as Director. I am looking forward with great enthusiasm to our next phase of development, which will culminate in the completion of the Darwin Centre Phase Two in 2008. What a privilege - and a challenge - it is to be leading such a great institution at this exciting time.
Dr Michael Dixon, Director
1. Treasurehouse & Powerhouse: an assessment of the scientific, cultural and economic value of the Natural History Museum by Tony Travers, Stephen Glaister and John Wakefield is on our website at www.nhm.ac.uk/treasurehouse.