This is a complete facsimile of Richard Owen’s original 1854 guide to the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and displayed in Crystal Palace Park, Sydenham, London since 1854. These life-sized sculptures of prehistoric ‘monsters’ included dinosaurs, mammals, marine reptiles, and other antediluvian beasts. Owen’s guide gave visitors technical descriptions of underlying biology and geology. The goal was to move beyond mere sensational display to create accurate and sophisticated ‘visual education’ for visitors to the park. The result is a celebration of British geology at the very height of its expertise.
Richard Owen (1804-1892) was Hunterian Professor and Conservator at the Royal College of Surgeons and soon to be Superintendent of the Natural History Department at the British Museum. He served as a consultant to Hawkins on this project. Owen was one of the most important paleontologists and comparative anatomists of the 19th century. He invented the taxonomic category of ‘dinosaurs’. This guide shows Owen’s biases and special interests.