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Dry Store Room No 1 The Secret Life Of The Natural History Museum Hardcover – Jan 10 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: UK General Books (Jan. 10 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007209886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007209880
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 24 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 762 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #938,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 16 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The Museum, the Scientists and their Specimens Oct. 8 2008
By Daniel Allie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
About a month ago, (September 2008) I had a chance to hear Richard Fortey himself lecturing about this book. The lecture, very fittingly, was happening in a natural history museum. As his lecture unfolded, I found myself with many of the most interesting characters that have ever contributed to natural history, both famous and obscure. I also learned about what goes on behind the scenes of the museum, and of some of the many interesting and strange specimens which are not on display, such as an "accursed amethyst" and the famous rock from Mars which is said by some to contain fossils. After the lecture was over, I went home and started reading the book, and found the written account of these things and people to be just as engaging as it was to hear Richard Fortey speaking. It is like recieving your own guided tour through the Natural History Museum of London, and even through the history of natural history. Richard Fortey shows that scientists can be very eccentric and unusual characters, in spite of their stereotype of being very dry and boring. All in all, this is an excellent book which chronicles the history of the museum, the people who make it go, and the specimens which are stored inside it. I recommend this book to anyone who has wondered what goes on inside the hearts of museums, and also to people who are interested in natural history. You will finish this book knowing much about the "behind the scenes" of museums.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Excellent March 6 2009
By John Lynch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've had the pleasure of working behind the scenes in a number of natural history museums. While a grad student, I had an office in the Natural History Museum in Dublin, spent a good deal of time every year in the collections of the Royal Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, and a month at the Natural History Museum in London. As anyone who has spent time behind the scenes will tell you, not only are all the really cool specimens kept away from public view, but museums are populated with some very strange people! Richard Fortey's latest book offers a wonderfully entertaining and evocative depiction of life in the London museum. He covers the the history of the museum and its collections, the people, and the political skirmishes as administrators wrestled control of the museum away from the scientists and into the hands of businessmen.

Fortey's central message is important: the sort of basic (often morphological) systematic and taxonomic work that is being done in museums is important and should not be diminished by administrators' love of "sexy" techniques or charismatic taxa. Our intellectual landscape is being shrunken by the ever-increasing trend to turn museums into sites of performance and tourism rather than of research.

Those familiar with museums will recognize many archetypal figures. Members of the public will get a wonderful insight into what goes on behind the scenes. I highly recommend this book.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
"Did you have a nice week with the troglodytes, dear?" Jan. 18 2009
By Bart King - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Richard Fortey is also the author of Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution. This has some bearing on this wonderful book because of passages like this:
It might seem an odd ambition to try to get everyone to pronounce a word correctly. But mine has always been to get the world to say "trilobite" without fudging, and with a certain measure of understanding. My own mother was wont to say "troglodyte," which at least has a certain prehistoric dimension, even if it refers to human cave dwellers rather than extinct arthropods several hundred million years older than humans.

"Did you have a nice week with the troglodytes, dear?" was one of her regular enquiries.
As this (hopefully) illustrates, Fortey is a capable and humorous guide, one who can impart information without the reader minding it a bit. And this book isn't just about hidden exhibits and research. Some of its most fascinating specimens are the humans who work behind the scenes.

One of Fortey's particular strengths is what I call the "Doug Henning Superpower." Older readers may remember Doug Henning as a tie-dyed magician with big hair. Although he should have been aggravating, Henning was able to look as amazed as his audiences at the wonders he wrought onstage. Fortey has this ability as well; he is a guide who takes us behind the scenes of the Natural History Museum with a convincing demeanor of excitement and wonder.

And it's contagious!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating and Witty Sept. 20 2011
By RyanS93 - Published on Amazon.com
I actually received this book as a gift from my former biology teacher. Biology and the such isn't my favorite subject but I enjoy learning about it, and so was interested in reading this book. I (and many others I'm sure) expected this book to be rather like a textbook or encyclopedia (to play on the title, be "dry") but I was pleasantly surprised. Fortey manages to introduce a wealth of genuinely fascinating information about the museum, its eccentric scientists, and the many specimens they studied while being humorous and entertaining at the same time. I learned an incredible amount about species I never knew existed, how taxonomy and its related methods work, and lots about the museum itself. Fortey tells many stories about himself and his coworkers, and really shows the genius of the scientists who do all of this incredible research. His humor and wit are sure to make you smile while reading it, and keeps you interested in it for the entire length. I never thought I would enjoy a book like this about natural history and a museum, loaded with technical information, but due to Fortey's writing talent I did. Overall, an excellent read and highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Anything but dry Jan. 6 2009
By Patricia A. Folley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Dry Storeroom No. 1" is a lively, gossipy memoir of the author's lifetime working at the British Museum. I was intrigued by the resemblance of the characters to some of those I have myself experienced in working at a very different kind of museum. The author has managed to capture the humanity of his fellow-workers while sharing also their contributions to human understanding of the earth.