Many of the earlier private museums were for wealthy enthusiasts. Richard Owen wanted the Natural History Museum to be open for everyone, students and leisure visitors alike. He even planned to install lighting in the main galleries to allow the working classes to visit in the evenings.
To achieve this aim to accommodate everyone, Alfred Waterhouse originally planned that wide galleries would house exhibitions for the general public, while narrow galleries in between would allow students to study specimens brought up from the basement stores.
The galleries off Waterhouse Way are clear examples of his thinking. In practice this plan was not put into action and the galleries were filled indiscriminately.