Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum (Hardcover)
Richard Fortey—one of the world’s most gifted natural scientists and acclaimed author of Life, Trilobite and Earth—describes this splendid new book as a museum of the mind. But it is, as well, a perfect behind-the-scenes guide to a legendary place. Within its pages, London’s Natural History Museum, a home of treasures—plants from the voyage of Captain Cook, barnacles to which Charles Darwin devoted years of study, hidden accursed jewels—pulses with life and miraculous surprises. In an elegant and illuminating narrative, Fortey acquaints the reader with the extraordinary people, meticulous research and driving passions that helped to create the timeless experiences of wonder that fill the museum. And with the museum’s hallways and collection rooms providing a dazzling framework, Fortey offers an often eye-opening social history of the scientific accomplishments of the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Fortey’s scholarship dances with wit. Here is a book that is utterly entertaining from its first page to its last.
“Fortey. . . in his affectionate portrayal of the institution in which he spent his working life. . . sneaks us behind the scenes with all the glee of a small child seeing for the first time the museum's iconic Diplodocus skeleton . . .always authoritative. . . the beauty of the book is that - just like a museum - you can visit the different sections in any order you choose, lingering in the places that most take your fancy. . . and there is plenty of solid science to enjoy, elucidated with brilliant flair.”—Sunday Times
“Fortey has a scientist's regard for fact but a poet's delight in wonder. This is a rare intoxicating insight into a hidden community intent on unlocking the universe's myriad secrets.”—Metro
"Engaging. . . .Fortey's writing is enough to make the behind-the-scenes work of the museum totally fascinating. . . . (his) delightful book, like the museum it describes, is both rambling and elegant."—Sunday Telegraph
“This book is worthy of the place it tells us about, and that is a pretty lofty chunk of praise.”—The Times
“Richard Fortey's wonderful book . . . shows the unspectacular elements of the museum collection as the most interesting part of its work, while placing the well-known exhibits in a new and often comical light. . . with eccentricity flourishing unchecked among its staff Fortey has amassed a brilliant collection of anecdotes about their habits.”—Daily Telegraph
“In this loving survey of his life at the museum, Fortey. . . is never less than enthused by all the museum's collections.”—Financial Times
“Compendious and entertaining. . . much of the narrative interest of the book is carried anecdotally, by wonderful stories. . . Fortey gives us a vivid virtual tour of the museum's hidden stores and retired displays. . . . it is a book filled with a passion for nature and pride in an institution that has done so much to compile its inventory. Fortey is a knowledgeable guide, with a keen eye and gentle humour."—Evening Standard