« ElőzőTovább »
The chief alternative plan is based on the transference of Bookiii, the Natural History Collections to an entirely new site, and Recoh
on the devotion to the uses of the Literary and Archaeological Ixpet Departments of the Museum of the whole of the space so ,ECT0K5' freed from the scientific departments.
The Committee of 1860 condemned this plan in the Pi.an»ob
_ . 1 THE TRANS'
main (but only, as it seems, by a single voice upon a Eerence division), but what that Committee had under consideration Natural was only the first form into which the plan of separation "IST0EY
J r r Collec
had been shaped. At the end of the year 1861 and Tmnsto
« !i -i Tip Kensington
beginning of 1862, that plan was again brought before a (orelseSub-Committee of the Trustees, at the express instance of ^"i-s the Lords of Her Majesty's Treasury, and it was thus reported upon:—
Your Committee, to whom it has been referred to consider the best Beport or manner of carrying into effect the Treasury Minute of the thirteenth of SoB-CoM
J ° J MITTEE OP
November, 1861, and the Resolution passed at the special general Trustees, meeting of the third of December of the same year, have unanimously J»n-, 1862. agreed to the following report :*—
The Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury state in that Minute Oi Minute, 'That, in their judgment, some of the collections ought to be Treasury. removed from the present buildings, and that they will be prepared to make proposals at the proper time to the Royal Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1851, with a view to the provision, on the estate of the Commissioners, of space and buildings, which shall be adequate to receive in particular, at first the Mineralogical, Geological, and Palseontological Collections, and ultimately, in case it shall be thought desirable, all those of the Natural History Departments.' Their Lordships, after having invited the Trustees to prosecute the further examination of the question, continue as follows:—'It will have to be considered what other or minor branches of the collections may, with propriety or advantage, be removed to other sites, or even made over, if in any case it might seem proper, to other establishments.'
* It is to this Report of 1862 that the accompanying lithographic facsimiles of the original illustrative plans belong. Two of them show the then existing arrangements of the principal floors; the other two show the then proposed alterations and re-arrangements.
Book III, Chap. VII. ReconStructoh3 And ProJectors.
All CollecTions Op Natural History To Be Removed
EthnologiCal CollecTion To Be Removed.
Tour Committee have, therefore, thought it their duty at the outset to examine whether all the Natural History Collections, viz. the Zoological and Botanical, in addition to the Geological, Palseontological, and Mineralogical, specified in the Treasury Minute, might with propriety and advantage he removed from the present British Museum buildings. The importance, as regards science, of preserving together all objects of Natural History, was forcibly urged by Sir R. Mtjrchison, at the special general meeting of the third of December. In a Memorial laid before the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1858, and signed by more than one hundred and twenty eminent promoters and cultivators of science,* it was represented ' that as the chief end and aim of natural history is to demonstrate the harmony which pervades the whole, and the unity of principle, which bespeaks the unity of the Creative Cause, it is essential that the different classes of natural objects should be preserved in juxtaposition under the roof of one great building.' Tour Committee concur in this opinion, and they have come to the conclusion that it is essential to the advantage of science and of the collections which are to remain in Bloomsbury, that the removal of all the objects of Natural History should take place, and, as far as practicable, should be simultaneously effected.
With regard to Botany, it is a question whether the existence of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew does not suggest an exception as to the place to which the British Museum Botanical Collection should be removed, reserving a small series for the illustration of fossil Botany, in connexion with Palaeontology.
It is to be kept in view that the removal of the Palaeontology, Geology, and Mineralogy, would leave unoccupied only two very inconveniently placed rooms in the basement, besides the north half of the north gallery on the upper floor (about four hundred feet in length, by thirtysix in width); whereas the recently imported marbles from Halicarnassus, Cnidus, Geronta, and Cyrene, fill completely the space under the colonnade, extending to about five hundred and forty feet in length. Nor can your Committee omit to add, that should the removal of the Botany and Zoology be delayed, the final and systematic arrangement of the collections which are to remain must be equally delayed; while, if any portions of these were removed to other situations in the Museum, or their final transfer postponed, many of the objects retained would have again to be shifted for the sake of congruity and economy of space.
It is, therefore, recommended by your Committee, that all the Natural History Collections be speedily and simultaneously removed.
Together with these the Ethnological Collection ought to be provided
* Parliamentary Return, No. 456, of the Session 1858.
for elsewhere. Most of the objects which it contains have no affinity Book III, with those which are contained in the other parts of the Museum, nor is Chap. VIZ the collection worthy of this country for its extent, nor yet, owing to its B,EC0N" exceptional character, is it brought together in a methodical and ANDpHOinstructive manner. Occupying but a secondary place in the British Jectobs. Museum, it cannot obtain either the space or the attention which it might obtain, were it not surrounded and cast into the shade by a vast number of splendid and interesting objects which have irresistible claims to preference. Mr. Hawkins was of opinion,' that if Ethnography be retained,' it would be necessary to quadruple the space for its exhibition. The Select Committee in their report (p. vii), state that' they have received evidence from every witness examined on this subject in favour of the removal of the Ethnographical Collection.' If it were to be retained, an area of ten thousand feet (same report, p. xi) would be required. Tour Committee cannot, therefore, hesitate to recommend the removal of the Ethnographical Collection to a fitter place. Nor can they hesitate in proposing the removal, from the present Ornithological Gallery, of the Collection of Portraits hanging on the walls above the Pobteaits presses containing the stuffed birds. Those paintings having no connexion with the objects for the preservation of which the Museum was founded, would never have been placed there had there been a National Portrait Gallery in existence for their reception.
The following is a detailed statement of the space which would be left Space Le*t vacant in various parts of the Museum by the removal of the above Vacant. collections
Then follows an enumeration, first, of the space left vacant by the removal of the Geological, Palaeontological, and Mineralogical Collections, amounting in the whole to an area of twenty thousand one hundred and thirty-five feet; secondly, of the space left vacant by the removal of the Zoological Collection, amounting to an area of thirtyfive thousand four hundred and twenty-eight feet; thirdly, of the space left vacant by the removal of the Botanical Collection, amounting to five thousand nine hundred feet; and, finally, of the space left vacant by the removal of the Ethnological Collection, namely, a room on the south side of the upper floor, marked '3' on the plan, ninety-four feet by twenty-four, giving an area of two thousand two hundred
Book in, and fifty-six feet; and giving, in the whole, an aggregate Eecon- area of sixty-five thousand and seventy-nine feet. Akd^pi^3 Having enumerated the collections which might, with Jectohs. propriety and advantage, be removed from the British Tkeasuey 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. Thustees' Tour Committee have, in the first place, had their attention drawn to Oeeices. 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 means of providing on Book ill, its present site against the evils above mentioned. Chap. VII.
In the next place, your Committee have taken into consideration the E,EC0N"
absolute necessity of providing for the exhibition of specimens of coins AND pEOand medals, always intended by the Trustees, but never carried into Jectoks. 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 ColNS bited to Museum visitors. The want of room for such a purpose is the ALS 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 Exhibition space for the due exhibition of prints and drawings, and of the repeated or F^IKTS complaints of the keeper of that department, who cannot find room IKGS 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 be 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 modern times, in various