« ElőzőTovább »
Book III, Chap. VII. KeconStkuctors And ProJector.
Treasury Mimti; Alteration Of Present
and fifty-six feet; and giving, in the whole, an aggregate area of sixty-five thousand and seventy-nine feet.
Having enumerated the collections which might, with propriety and advantage, be removed from the British Museum, and stated the extent of new accommodation which would consequently be gained for other collections, the Committee proceeded to consider, in the words of the Treasury Minute, 'the two important questions—first, of such final enlargement and alterations of the present buildings as the site may still admit, and as may be conducive to the best arrangement of the interior; secondly, of the redistribution of the augmented space among the several collections that are to remain permanently at the Museum, among which, of course, my Lords give the chief place to the Library Departments and the Antiquities.'
The Committee, agreeing with their Lordships that the chief claims in the redistribution of the augmented space are those of the Antiquities and of the Library Departments, then proceed to say that—
They have thought themselves bound also to pay attention to certain other important purposes, to which a portion of the space to be obtained by alterations within and by building on some remaining spots of unoccupied ground, might be beneficially applied.
Your Committee have, in the first place, had their attention drawn to that part of the existing buildings appropriated to the administrative department of the Museum. The want of space for clerks, for Museum publications, for stationery, for the archives of the Trust, for papers of all descriptions, for the transaction of business with officers and servants of the Trustees, and with tradesmen, as well as the want of a waitingroom for strangers of all ranks who have to attend on the Trustees, or wish to have interviews with their chief officer or any of the persons attached to his office, is the cause of great embarrassment and discomfort. To which is to be added the inconvenience caused by the unsuitable arrangement of the rooms, which renders those who occupy them liable to perpetual interruptions. Moreover, by the strict rule forbidding the admission of artificial light into the Museum, the period of available working time is occasionally much abridged. Another site must be found for this department; there are no meana of providing on Book nr, its present site against the evils above mentioned. CbsP-VI1
In the next place, your Committee have taken into consideration the Rr-C0!l
- , . . 8TRUCTOR3
absolute necessity of providing for the exhibition of specimens of coins AND pK0. and medals, always intended by the Trustees, but never carried into Jkctoes. effect for want of space. And not only a selection of coins and medals, Exhibition but also one of gems, cameos, and valuable ornaments, should be exhi- op CoINa bited to Museum visitors. The want of room for such a purpose is the y*" source of great trouble and inconvenience. The present Medal Room is much too confined even for the arrangement and preservation of its contents, and for such accommodation of its officers as is necessary to enable them to perform properly their duties. Moreover, as visitors cannot be indiscriminately admitted to the Ornament Room, still less to the Medal Room, such of them as do not take the proper steps for gaining access to those rooms are debarred from seeing even specimens of objects which acquire a peculiar interest in proportion to the strictness with which they are guarded. The general visitors should have an opportunity of satisfying their laudable curiosity by seeing a good selection of coins, just as they can at the present time see interesting specimens of manuscripts and printed books; scholars and persons who have special reasons for examining coins leisurely and minutely, ought to have the means of doing so comfortably under proper regulations, and in a separate room, in the same manner as readers are allowed to use books; but no stranger should be admitted into the room where the Collection of Coins and Medals is preserved unless in rare and exceptional cases, and always in the presence of the Principal Librarian, or the keeper of the department.
In the third place, your Committee, being aware of the importance of ExmBrnoir space for the due exhibition of prints and drawings, and of the repeated °* ^ pKrs complaints of the keeper of that department, who cannot find room IHas wherein to arrange the collection so as to have it safely preserved as well as readily accessible, have given their best attention to those complaints. Most of the inconveniences which are felt by visitors, as well as by Museum officers, in the existing Medal Room, are equally felt in the existing Print Room; and many of the wants which it is suggested should be provided for to make the Collection of Coins and Medals as useful and instructive as it ought to be in a great national institution, are wants against which provision must bo made in order to render equally useful and instructive the Collection of Prints and Drawings. These wants are ample space for classing, arranging, and preserving the bulk of the collection, as well as ample space wherein to exhibit, for the amusement and instruction of the public generally, such a selection of prints and drawings as may be calculated to give a general notion of both arts from their infancy to comparatively modem times, in various
countries, and according to the style of the most celebrated masters. Studies should likewise be provided for the keeper, and also for an assistant-keeper, in this department, as well as accommodation for artists who come to copy or study critically any of the objects, or classes of objects, forming part of this collection, and for those who come for the purpose of researches requiring less minute attention, and who desire to see a variety of prints and drawings in succession.
In the fourth place, your Committee have taken into consideration the want of space for carrying on the binding of the Museum books. The Collection of Manuscripts, and, much more, that of Printed Books, have of late years been increasing with unexampled rapidity; but the bookbinders' accommodation has not been increased in a corresponding ratio. The damage caused, particularly to new books, placed unbound in the readers' hands, may well be conceived; and the Trustees were compelled, by the necessity of the case, to sanction an expedient of doubtful legality, by allowing a large number of books, which in case of misfortune might be easily replaced at a comparatively small outlay, to be taken out of the Museum to be bound in a house immediately opposite to it, hired by the bookbinder. Tour Committee think that such an arrangement, avowedly a temporary one, ought not to continue a moment longer than is unavoidable; and that adequate provision should be made as speedily as possible within the Museum premises for binding all books belonging to the Trust.
Tour Committee will now proceed to consider the questions of the final enlargement and alterations of the present buildings, and of the redistribution of the augmented space for the several purposes above mentioned. In making the following proposals, your Committee have kept in view the principle that it would not be advisable for the Trustees to appropriate specifically to particular objects any particular space. They will, therefore, as much as possible, confine themselves to stating how the augmented space should be generally redistributed among the remaining collections, giving the chief place to the Antiquities and Library; the arrangement of the particular objects or classes of objects should rest on the responsibility of the head of each department, who would in due time submit his views to the Trustees. Tour Committee also wish it to be clearly understood that the structural details herein suggested or implied, must be considered liable to such modifications as the farther development of the scheme may require.
In the building as now arranged, the principal staircase (No. 69 on the plan of the ground floor) is situated on the left in the Entrance Hall (No. 2); opposite to the entrance is the corridor (No. 80) leading to the Reading-Room; east and west of that corridor, between the main building and the new Library, there is an area (No. 70 and 79) about thirty feet wide unoccupied. It has long been suggested that the prin
TABLE OF REFERENCES.
3 W Staircases
first Graxo Reman. Saloon
Entrance to lower Gallery
Xorlh Central Library
Sorting Room i ■
B' a? J>°'
IP> d". Rc
D° dc .J)?..... R?'
D? d' Rc V
D" df D* R< Ccmuetmg Passage
Entrance U Reading Room,