|AdminHistory||Loan of specimens for study and identification by specialists in other institutions was only allowed from 1902 onwards. The Director of the British Museum (Natural History) or BMNH (as the Natural History Museum was then known) E. Ray Lankester was at the forefront of this change. |
On the continent the system of loaning specimens to other institutions and specialists for identification and study was commonplace at that time, but at BMNH it was deemed to be contrary to the direction of its establishing 1753 Act which stated that the collections 'shall remain and be preserved in the Museum for public use to all posterity'.
When Lankester initially raised the issue he was refused, but legal advice suggested that the Act was not as prohibitive as had been decided, and he raised the issue again 4 years later. In a ruling of November 1902 the Lord Chancellor approved the lending of material for identification and the Trustees assented. At that time this did not cover the loan of types of unique identified specimens.