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Press release

Natural wonders


New online art exhibition goes live on Monday 7 June

Owls, monkeys, elephants and exotic plants from South Asia will come to life in a new virtual art exhibition available online from 7 June 2004 at Natural Wonders – Images from the Indian Subcontinent is presented by the Natural History Museum to share its natural history art collection from South Asia, and help uncover the stories behind some of the artists.

Featuring over 40 drawings and paintings, selected from 10 major collections of South Asian natural history art from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this virtual exhibition offers an insight into the natural history of this fascinating region. Highlights include works collected by Bryan Houghton Hodgson who lived in Nepal for many years during the 1820s and 1830s. Hodgson became fascinated with the local birds and mammals and commissioned local Nepalese artists to draw thousands of watercolours of these beautiful animals.

Unfortunately little is known about many of the artists whose work forms part of the exhibition, and the Museum hopes by displaying their works we can accumulate more knowledge about them. Any information can be sent to, where it will be assimilated into the art collection’s database.

‘The Natural History Museum’s Library holds the largest, and more importantly, finest collection of natural history art in the world,’ says Julie Harvey, Collection Development Manager at the Natural History Museum, ‘We are hoping the Natural Wonders exhibition will provide a taster of artwork that we hold from the Indian Subcontinent and it would be wonderful if, through this exhibition, we could uncover more information about the featured artists who made such a fantastic contribution to our understanding of the natural world.’

Natural Wonders – Images from the Indian Subcontinent is the third in a series of online art exhibitions, which is increasing access to the Natural History Museum’s vast collection of natural history art. The previous exhibitions, One Hundred Years of Nature – Artwork from the Twentieth Century and Drawing Conclusions – the Impact of Art on Natural History, have received more than 300,000 online visitors and are archived on the website. Natural Wonders – Images from the Indian Subcontinent will also be archived after four months on the art collections homepage.

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Notes for editors 

  •  Winner of the 2004 Excellence in England Gold Award for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with groundbreaking projects in 68 countries. The Museum is committed to encouraging public engagement with science. This has been greatly enhanced by the Darwin Centre, a major new initiative, which offers visitors unique access behind the scenes of the Museum. Phase One of the project opened to the public in 2002 and Phase Two is scheduled to open in 2008.
  • The Natural History Museum’s Library has collections of international importance with extensive holdings of early works, periodicals and current literature. The collection includes over 800,000 books, 25,000 periodical titles (about half of them current) and the third largest collection of original watercolour drawings in the UK, as well as maps (especially geological maps), manuscripts and the archives of the Natural History Museum.
  • The Library is open from Monday to Friday, 10.00 to 16.30. It is closed on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays and certain other days. The libraries are open by appointment and visitors are asked to write, telephone or email in advance of a visit. Telephone: 020 7942 5460,
    email: or write to: General Library, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD.

Venue: The Natural History Museum
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10.00–17.50,
Sunday 11.00–17.50
Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 5000 Monday–Friday.
020 7942 5011, Saturday and Sunday

If you would like to interview Julie Harvey, request images, further exhibition information, or arrange a press visit to view the artwork please contact:

Rebecca Chetley or Natalie Brooke
Tel: 020 7942 5654
Email: (not for publication)

Issued June 2004