Friday night (23rd) was a roaring success for the Museum.
The Science Uncovered event saw the Museum filled with people of all ages up until 11pm. Both our South
Kensington and Tring sites took part. This was part of the European Researchers' Night 2011.
The Library & Archives staff had the opportunity to play their role this year, and what fun we had!
Our team of staff ran tours behind the scenes, in the Central Hall, and in our Images of Nature art gallery at South Kensington. We had a wonderful response from those members of the public who visited both the South Kensington and Tring sites.
Special collections behind the scenes
Every half an hour between4pm and 9.30pm we gave tours behind the scenes, with a display of nineteen items from our special collections, including the first edition of Darwin's 'On the origin of species' (1859), watercolours by Ferdinand Bauer, an early printed herbal (1491), ephemera relating to travelling menagerie's, and William Hamilton's 'Campi Phlegræi' (1779).
Visitors were given an overview of the items on display, and then our Assistant Librarians picked some of their personal favourites. There was a chance to look closer at the collection and ask lots of questions!
All relaxed in the art gallery
A team of Library staff were ready and waiting for visitors passing through the newest gallery in the NHM, Images of Nature, which opened in January 2011. They mingled with visitors who came with different levels of interest in art, including some who started with no interest in spending time in an art gallery, but who ended up staying and listening intently! There was a really relaxed atmosphere, with people circulating with drinks and nibbles.
Getting to know illustration at Tring
Our Assistant Librarian at Tring ran six sessions on the theme of natural history Illustration from Gutenberg to the end of the 19th century, featuring material from the extensive Library of Lionel Walter Rothschild, and using the literature of ornithology as examples.
Bringing the building alive
The Archives team gave eight guided tours starting at Dippy's tail at the main entrance, up the stairs past Darwin, along to the Mineralogy Gallery, and finally stopping the giant sequoia at the heady height of the Central Hall. The staff brought the architecture of our fantastic building alive, telling tales about the Museum's history to around eighty people.
Some of the comments from staff involved:
"...I spoke to a couple who were very interested in digitisation, which lead on to BHL, and a discussion about copyright and the unknown future of digital preservation."
"...it was nice to talk about what we are up to, and many of the visitors said they really appreciated the opportunity."
"...really interesting to hear the different things that the visitors found appealing. For some it was the colours of the Bauer watercolours. Someone else was curious about the reconstructions of the 1950's Parker illustrations of dinosaurs compared to today’s."
" ...it was great to be involved with, but completely exhausting!"
"...lots of my tour attendees said how interesting they found the information I gave them. Many of them were clearly making the most of the event by booking on several tours."
"...one young couple said the Library visit was 'more interesting than they expected!'"
"...after my talk I was asked by a lady what an average day for me was like in the Library, because it sounded really interesting! I was rather chuffed."
All for free, now there's a bargain! Great work everyone, and thank you all for coming and taking part.