Event Detail


Natural History Museum

Richard Fortey
Tuesday, 2 Mar 2010
Pacific Place Conference Centre 5/F One Pacific Place , Admiralty
Richard Fortey lectures on his witty bestselling book about 30 years of looking after the museum’s 70 million specimens, collected over some 400 years.

We are delighted to welcome to Hong Kong Professor Richard Fortey, FRS, to lecture on “Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum". In this lecture, Professor Fortey tells the story of his witty book about 30 years of looking after the museum’s 70 million specimens, collected over some 400 years. Professor Fortey, after a career famous in the scientific community as the world’s leading authority on trilobites, went straight to the bestseller lists with the publication of his The Secret Life, an amusing, erudite account of the behind the scenes life at the world’s greatest natural history museum.

Described as “a perfect behindthescenes guide to a legendary place", in the lecture Professor Fortey tells the story of this home of treasures, from plants from the voyage of Captain Cook, to barnacles which Charles Darwin devoted years of study to hidden accursed jewels. With considerable wit, Professor Fortey tells of the extraordinary people, meticulous research and driving passions that helped collect the wonders that fill the museum, against the backdrop of a history of the scientific accomplishments of some five centuries.

Behind the great iconic façade of The Natural History Museum is the world's most important collection of natural history specimens. Most visitors see only the public side of the museum: its galleries and displays. But behind the scenes is a hidden world of millions of specimens, scientific research and curators. In the lecture, Professor Fortey explains the importance of the museum as a repository for specimens and as a centre for research, though the stories of some of the people who work there, including amusing stories of eccentric dons and surprises about specimens even now being sorted. Importantly though, is that behind it all is the awareness that the museum is of ever increasing importance for biodiversity at a time when habitats and climate are in an unprecedented state of flux.

Professor Richard Fortey read Geology at Cambridge and spent his entire career as a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London. He has named numerous new species and continues his research despite having retired from the museum. In 1993, his book, The Hidden Landscape, was named the Natural World Book of the Year and all his other books have won awards. In 1997, he received the greatest honour in science, on his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2006, he was awarded the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Prize for the public communication of science. Professor Fortey has received inumerable other honours including his election as President of the Geological Society of London, the world’s oldest geological society, for its bicentennial year of 2007.

No Pre booking is required for this lecture
Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is HK$100 for Members and HK$150 for guests and others.

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