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Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum    by Richard Fortey order for
Dry Storeroom No. 1
by Richard Fortey
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2009 (2008)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I don't feel well qualified to review such a weighty publication as Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum. I am in no way, shape or form familiar with things scientific and this book is chock full of scientific names and references.

Dry Storeroom No. 1 is targeted at the more probing mind; one who has worked in the field in one capacity or another. The Natural History Museum is the repository of collections that showcase the history of mankind and the planet on which we live. The exhibits that lie behind the gleaming front rooms of this London museum count in the millions. It's surely worth a visit to view that which makes our earth go 'round.

I read this very interesting book from cover to cover even though a lot of it went over my head. What didn't, I found fascinating. The dedication of lives to the study of ants, for instance, blows my mind. The number of ant varieties is of little consequence to my daily existence. However, I do understand that the evolution of this species has its place in the world's development. The dedication of the author's life to trilobites leaves me in awe. I'm still not sure what a trilobite is. However, I respect a man who feels they are important enough to the scheme of things to devote his life to the study of such creatures.

Dry Storeroom No. 1 is written with a dry sense of humor which softens the scientists' urgency to discover what they can before their subjects become extinct. We, as a planet, are disregarding the importance of conservation - but we have all heard about this already. I suppose I should mention that women have played a part in exploring the heretofore unknown - and not a moment too soon. The museum had been a bastion of male hubris since its inception but has now, somewhat reluctantly, welcomed the gentler sex. These woman have more than proven their value.

All in all, Dry Storeroom No. 1 is not a light read. But one cannot help but feel richer in learning of the people and work that goes on behind museum doors and in the explorations of scientists in the field.

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