Goal of research at the Museum: Research Museum's Brentidae collection of approx. 1033 species (sensu stricto)
Wolfgang's impressions from a visit in the Coleoptera Department of NHM in June 2011:
From the 20th to 23rd June 2011 I had once more the opportunity to visit NHM. Staying near Earls Court I reached the Museum easily by foot. At Cromwell Road I was glad to see the towers of this cathedral of natural history again and when using the entrance at Exhibition Road I felt a little bit as a member of staff until the strict porter stopped my way.
But soon the kind student Lucia guided me through the exhibitions to the Coleoptera section passing the large Pliosaurs, the giant Diplodocus carnegii Hatcher and finally the statue of Charles Darwin. This would be my way in the morning for the next few days.
When she opened the sections' door seeing the green cabinets of the Collection I felt being at the best place.
Upstairs I could settle down on two desks (!) with a very fine microscope and a socket for my note book an got the access to roughly 9 Million specimens of Coleoptera !
During this stay Beulah Garner, Lucia, Lydia, Chris Lyall and of course Max Barclay granted their kind hospitality to me.
At former visits I had already experience with that giant collection looking for species from Carabidae: Lebia to Molytinae: Vanapa.
As during the last visit now I concentrated on my studies with my favorite family Brentidae represented by 100 drawers in best order and with excellent identifications and many typical material especially of Pascoe, Sharp and Kleine.
It was amazing to examine specimens already well known people had in their hands. Many determination labels are written by Sharp, Kleine, Damoiseau, Sforzi & Barolozzi and Mantilleri, all excellent specialist of brentids.
The specimens of Sharp are as fine and accurate as his contribution in Biologia Centrali-Americana is.
In most cases the labels are very detailed and complete, even sometimes demonstrating the different oppinions of different workers to one species, so one can read them as a book.
When reading “DUTCH NEW GUINEA: Cyclops Mts. Sabron Camp 2D 2,000 ft. vi.1936. L. E. Cheesman. B. M 1936-271” (holotype of Cordus cheesmanae (Kleine)), I imagine the photograph of Lucy Evelyn Cheesman on page 277 in Richard Fortey's Dry Store Room N° 1 to what he writes: “New Guinea tribesmen would fall silent under her imperious stare”.
By the way this entertaining book gives an inside view to the entire NHM and every enthusiast of museums should have read it.
In some cases there were very welcome biological data as “ex Quercus spicta” from the Holotype of Callipareus bistriatus (Kleine) or “Cratoxylon arborescens imported from Singapore”. This later is an up to 60 meters high member of Hypericaceae. To an European it is strange to imagine a St John's wort as such a high tree, but it is belonging to the same family. This data is from the Holotype of Catablysmia navigator Damoiseau now standing in its right place. When Sforzi & Bartolozzi wrote their Cataloge of Brentids it was obviously missing.
Beulah also made the section's reprint collection available to me. There I could find for instance some publications of Kleine in the Journal of the Federated Malay State Museum for what I had searched for many years without success.
So my 4th visit to NHM was very successful as the others had already been. That's why I wish to express my cordial thanks to Max Barclay and his team.
Wolfgang Schiller from Germany