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- be purchased, as your Committee have already recommended,
the cost above stated would be, of course, increased.’
The recommendation here referred to has been already quoted in a preceding chapter, together with a statement of the grounds on which it was based.
The only additional elucidation, on this head, which it seems necessary to give may be found in a passage of the evidence of one of the Trustees, Sir Roderick MURCHISON, who, in 1858, with other eminent men of science, presented a Memorial to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, praying that the British Museum might not be dismembered by any transference of the Natural History Collections to another locality. After saying: ‘ I entirely coincide still in every opinion that was expressed in that Memorial, and I have since seen additional and stronger reasons for wishing that [its prayer] should be supported,’ Sir Roderick added: ‘When it was brought before us [that is, before a SubCommittee of Trustees] in evidence, that if we were largely to extend the British Museum at once in sitzi, and that as large a building were to be made in add as might be made at Kensington, we then learned that the expense would be greater. But I have since seen good grounds to believe that by purchasing the ground rents or the land, to north, east, or west, of the Museum, according to a plan which I believe has now been prepared and laid before the members of the Committee [referring to that of Mr. OLDFIELD, just described], and availing ourselves of the gradual * power of enlargement . . . . . the Nation would be put to a much less expense for several years to come, and would in the end realise all those objects which it is the aimT of men of science to obtain.’
See Chap. III of Book III.
lliuuln of Evidence, 1860.1), 12431250, pp. 102. 103.
*l' Printed by oversight ‘ general ’ in the Minutes of Evidence. T Printed ‘object’ in Minutes of Emkience, as above.
The chief alternative plan is based on the transference of the Natural History Collections to an entirely new site, and on the devotion to the uses of the Literary and Archaeological Departments of the Museum of the whole of the space so freed from the scientific departments.
The Committee of 1860 condemned this plan in the main (but only, as it seems, by a single voice upon a division), but what that Committee had under consideration was only the first form into which the plan of separation had been shaped. At the end of the year 1861 and beginning of 1862, that plan was again brought before a Sub-Committee of the Trustees, at the express instance of 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 manner of carrying into effect the Treasury Minute of the thirteenth of November, 1861, and the Resolution passed at the special general meeting of the third of December of the same year, have unanimously agreed to the following report ;*—
The Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury state in that Minute, ‘That, in their judgment, some of the collections ought to be 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 Palaeontological 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 fac-similes 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 rearrangements.
Your 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, Palaeontological, and Mineralogical, specified in the Treasury Minute, might with propriety and advantage be 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. MURCHISON, 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 difl'erent classes of natural objects should be preserved in juxtaposition under the roof of one great building.’ Your 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 efi'ected.
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 Palaaontology.
It is to be kept in view that the removal of the Palmontology, 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
for elsewhere. Most of the objects which it contains have no afiinity with those which are contained in the other parts of the Museum, nor is the collection worthy of this country for its extent, nor yet, owing to its exceptional character, is it brought together in a methodical and instructive manner. Occupying but a secondary place in the British 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. Your 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 presses containing the stufl'ed 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 vacant in various parts of the Museum by the removal of the above 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
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 oflicers 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