Discover true stories of danger, death and disaster in a new exhibition, Daring Explorers, now open at the Natural History Museum at Tring.
Imagine being shipwrecked on a tiny island. Half your crew are dead. You’ve spent all your cash, eaten your last hunting dog and, most importantly, you need to get 30 giant tortoises to Britain alive or you won’t get paid.
These are some of the situations Victorian species seekers had to deal with, risking their lives in remote places, collecting animals and plants in the name of science.
Wollaston in New Guinea
Alexander F R Wollaston lost most of his equipment and his original expedition diary when his canoe capsized in a remote area of New Guinea in 1912.
Charles M Harris’s first expedition attempt to the Galapagos in 1897 was a disaster. The ship’s captain died of yellow fever, one man was sacked for drunkenness and another ran away.
Surviving rhino attacks, typhoid and shipwrecks, these men, and a few women, left quite a legacy and their stories are told in this exhibition.
It’s not just the collector's stories that still captivate us. Many of the specimens that made it home continue to be used in scientific research, revealing fascinating information.
Alice Adams, Interpretation and Learning Manager at the Museum at Tring says, ‘Our founder Walter Rothschild relied on these courageous collectors to form the impressive collection at the Natural History Museum at Tring that has inspired generations of visitors to take an interest in the natural world.’
Daring Explorers is open from 23 July to 18 November 2012. As well as plenty of activities for families, visitors will find out if they have what it took to be a Victorian natural history collector, read hair-raising letters to loved ones, flick through ‘holiday' snaps and see the specimens and equipment that made it home, even if the collectors didn’t.