Dry Store Room No. 1 is an intimate biography of the Natural History Museum, celebrating the eccentric personalities who have peopled it and capturing the wonders of scientific endeavour, academic rigour and imagination.
Behind the public facade of any great museum there lies a secret domain: one of unseen galleries, locked doors, priceless specimens and hidden lives.
Through the stories of the numerous eccentric individuals whose long careers have left their mark on the study of evolutionary science, Richard Fortey, former senior paleaontologist at London's Natural History Museum, celebrates the pioneering work of the Museum from its inception to the present day.
He delves into the feuds, affairs, scandals and skulduggery that have punctuated its long history, and formed a backdrop to extraordinary scientific endeavour. He explores the staying power and adaptability of the Museum as it responds to changes wrought by advances in technology and molecular biology – 'spare' bones from an extinct giant bird suddenly become cutting-edge science with the new knowledge that DNA can be extracted from them, and ancient fish are tested with the latest equipment that is able to measure rises in pollution.
Dry Store Room No. 1 is a fascinating and affectionate account of a hidden world of untold treasures, where every fragment tells a story about time past, by a scientist who combines rigorous professional learning with a gift for prose that sparkles with wit and literary sensibility.
Richard Fortey retired from his position as senior palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in 2006. He has won both the Lewis Thomas and Michael Faraday medals for his science writing. He was elected President of the Geological Society of London for its bicentennial year in 2007, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.
"This book is worthy of the place it tells us about, and that is a pretty lofty chunk of praise."
– The Times
"In this loving survey of his life at the museum, Fortey [...] is never less than enthused by all the museum's collections."
– Financial Times
"Fortey [...] sneaks us behind the scenes with all the glee of a small child seeing for the first time the museum's iconic Diplodocus skeleton. 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
"His glorious new book is generously illustrated!the tale he tells is often very funny as well as erudite!it is impossible to avoid list – making in reviewing such a book. Really, all that needs to be said is simply read it, and enjoy it."
– Country Life