Catalogue number: WP4/5(3)
Annotated envelope for Wallace's museum plans, dated 1864.
This small blue envelope was where Wallace kept his museum plans. Wallace wrote on the envelope: 'Sketch for a National Museum of Natural History - 1864 - One somewhat similar sent to Prof. Owen about 1863'. It is not known why Wallace sent the plans to Richard Owen; perhaps he wanted to share his ideas with Owen, who became Superintendent of the British Museum (Natural History) in 1856. Owen submitted his own initial plans to the museum Trustees in 1859.
The land for the South Kensington museum (the Natural History Museum as we know it today) was purchased in 1863, and an open competition to design a new natural history museum for the site took place in 1864. It is possible that Wallace drew his plans for this competition, since he had strong opinions about the purpose of museums.
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View high resolution scans and transcripts of Alfred Russel Wallace's correspondence, including all surviving letters between him and Charles Darwin.