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Press release

THE EGG: THE MOST PERFECT THING IN THE UNIVERSE?


Free exhibition, 13 February – 4 July 2004
The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum,
Tring, Hertfordshire
Media Preview 13 February 2004, 10.30–13.00

Why did the ancient Egyptians mummify eggs? Which animal’s eggs are screw-shaped? How do penguins keep their eggs warm? The Egg: The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe?, is a new exhibition opening at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire in February, which will hatch the history of eggs with some of the most ‘egg-ceptional’ examples ever seen. Alongside the biggest, smallest and oldest eggs, visitors can see some of the rarest including an extinct ostrich egg and a mummified egg dating back to 2,000 BC, both on show for the first time in the UK.

Bird eggs come in every shape and size, from the tiny white hummingbird egg to the huge green eggs of the emu. This exhibition examines the egg’s incredible structure, one of nature’s most perfect examples of functional design, and the reasons for the huge variety of form. With more than 50 eggs on display, visitors are invited to compare and contrast eggs of birds, insects, reptiles – including dinosaurs – and even sharks.

Throughout history, many cultures have celebrated the egg as a symbol of spring, new life or fertility. One of the biggest celebrations in the Christian calendar, Easter, has become synonymous with the egg, although usually a chocolate one these days. The exhibition examines the cultural importance of the egg and how eggs have inspired art, as demonstrated by an intricately carved emu egg.

Powerful protector or potent symbol, the egg also has an important role to play in science. Researchers have studied eggs to reveal more about the evolution of bird species and the relationship between bird families. In more recent times, eggs have been clear indicators of pollution or the pervasive effects of pesticides. The Natural History Museum’s egg collection has been used extensively for scientific research, in some cases revealing the effects of acid rain on eggshell thickness.

Are eggs the most perfect thing in the universe? To decide, visit the exhibition to examine the egg-clectic collection of evidence.



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Notes for editors

  • A series of free Darwin Centre Live events at the Natural History Museum, London, will coincide with this exhibition. The live events will be webcast and will take place on Friday 9, Sunday 11 and Monday 12 April at 12.00 and 14.30. For more information, please visit www.nhm.ac.uk/darwincentre
  • The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum is the Natural History Museum’s sister museum in Tring, Hertfordshire. It opened in the late 1800s to house the collections of Lionel Walter, second Baron Rothschild. The Museum offers outstanding examples of nineteenth-century taxidermy at its very best and was bequeathed to the nation in 1938. It is now an annexe of the Natural History Museum. The public galleries have been modernised, but the fascinating character of the Museum was retained.

For more information visit: www.nhm.ac.uk/museum/tring/index.html

VISITOR INFORMATION

Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Herts, HP23 6AP
Admission: Free
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10.00–17.00,
Sunday 14.00–17.00
Access: Wheelchair access is limited to Gallery 1, the Temporary Exhibition Gallery, the Museum Shop and Zebra Café at present
Public enquiries: 020 7942 6171
Website: www.nhm.ac.uk/museum/tring

CONTACT INFORMATION

If you would like to request images or further exhibition information, please contact:

Paul Kitching / Alice Dowswell
The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring
Tel: 020 7942 6175/ 6160
Email: p.kitching@nhm.ac.uk / a.dowswell@nhm.ac.uk (not for publication)

Issued January 2004