Find Your Way Home--Bestselling Sat NavsPlan ahead and avoid traffic jams with one of our bestselling sat navs from top brands including TomTom and Garmin. We also stock a great range of up-to-date and fully-routable maps for your device, including popular destinations such as France, Portugal, North America and Scotland.
- Also check our best rated Travel Book reviews
Dry Store Room No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum Hardcover – 7 Jan 2008
Special offers and product promotions
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
‘Fortey…in his affectionate portrayal of the institution in which he spent his working life…sneaks us behind the scenes with all the glee of a small child seeing for the first time the museum's iconic Diplodocus skeleton…always authoritative…the beauty of the book is that – just like a museum – you can visit the different sections in any order you choose, lingering in the places that most take your fancy…and there is plenty of solid science to enjoy, elucidated with brilliant flair.’ Sunday Times
‘Immensely satisfying…not just enjoyable and informative, but inspiring.’ The Independent
‘Richard Fortey…a superb writer, is the perfect guide to the extraordinary Victorian edifice that he compares several times to Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast.’ The Guardian
‘An enchanting book.’ Sunday Express
'Teeming with life, Fortey's prose is eloquent, lively and suffused with often self–deprecating humour.' New Statesman
‘Fortey has a scientist's regard for fact but a poet's delight in wonder. This is a rare intoxicating insight into a hidden community intent on unlocking the universe's myriad secrets.’ Metro
‘Engaging…Fortey's writing is enough to make the behind–the–scenes work of the museum totally fascinating…(his) delightful book, like the museum it describes, is both rambling and elegant.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Compendious and entertaining…much of the narrative interest of the book is carried anecdotally, by wonderful stories…it is a book filled with a passion for nature and pride in an institution that has done so much to compile its inventory. Fortey is a knowledgeable guide, with a keen eye and gentle humour’ Evening Standard
‘Richard Fortey’s wonderful book…shows the unspectacular elements of the museum collection as the most interesting part of its work, while placing the well-known exhibits in a new and often comical light…with eccentricity flourishing unchecked among its staff Fortey has amassed a brilliant collection of anecdotes about their habits’ Daily Telegraph
'His glorious new book is generously illustrated…the tale he tells is often very funny as well as erudite…it is impossible to avoid list–making in reviewing such a book. Really, all that needs to be said is simply read it, and enjoy it.' Country Life
More praise for ‘Dry Store Room No. 1’:
‘This book is worthy of the place it tells us about, and that is a pretty lofty chunk of praise’ The Times
‘In this loving survey of his life at the museum, Fortey…is never less than enthused by all the museum’s collections’ Financial Times
‘Fortey…in his affectionate portrayal of the institution in which he spent his working life…sneaks us behind the scenes with all the glee of a small child seeing for the first time the museum’s iconic Diplodocus skeleton…always authoritative…the beauty of the book is that – just like a museum – you can visit the different sections in any order you choose, lingering in the places that most take your fancy…and there is plenty of solid science to enjoy, elucidated with brilliant flair’ Sunday Times
‘Engaging…Fortey’s writing is enough to make the behind-the-scenes work of the museum totally fascinating…(his) delightful book, like the museum it describes, is both rambling and elegant’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Fortey has a scientist’s regard for fact but a poet’s delight in wonder. This is a rare intoxicating insight into a hidden community intent on unlocking the universe's myriad secrets’ Metro
Praise for ‘The Earth’:
‘Richard Fortey is without peer among science writers.’ Bill Bryson
‘“The Earth” is a true delight: full of awe-inspiring details…it blends travel, history, reportage and science to create an unforgettable picture of our ancient earth.’ Sunday Times
‘This is not a book for people who like science books. It is a book for people who love books, and life…Fortey has written a wonderful book.’ Tim Radford, Guardian
‘Read this book because it is, indeed, the best natural history of the first four billion years of life on earth.’ John Gribbin, Sunday Times
‘[an] enchanting book…it cannot be denied that the denizens of the Natural History Museum…might well be the ones to ride to the rescue and help reverse or check the environmental catastrophes that increasingly face us’ Sunday Express
‘Fortey writes beautifully and this is a wonderful biography of rock and life…He has restored palaeontology to its rightful place in the pantheon.’ Lewis Wolpert, Observer
‘The tale of life needs constant retelling. Thank some happy accident of history that we have Fortey to tell it to us anew.’ Ted Nield, New Scientist
‘This book is a metaphor: a book about a museum that is itself a museum…a natural history of the Natural History Museum. It contains collections, of objects and of people; it educates and entertains; it helps you to see the world, and the NHM with new eyes.’ Spectator
`Sneaking behind the scenes with the glee of a child... there is plenty of solid science, elucidated with flair'See all Product description
Top customer reviews
This is by no means Fortey's best work, but it's diverting enough to be worth a look.
The author's love of his subject, London's famous Natural History Museum, shines through this book, and it is no surprise when he informs us that he, like many other scientists in the museum who he has described in this book, after his retirement continues to work there "for nothing."
This may seem like a rather chaotic, even random, book; Fortey makes this point himself saying "It does not pretend to be a comprehensive account...It is just my own collection-projects that caught my eye..."(p317.) However, it is saved from being merely a description of unconnected work and personalities of the Museum by the fact that the author does have a strong, personal message to impart.
Fortey argues forcefully, particularly in the last chapter, for the importance of taxonomy, the naming of names, the identification of species as part of a natural history museum's remit. He contrasts "This fundamental if...unglamorous science" with more easily funded areas of research, more "hypothesis testing" than pure investigations into the organisms themselves. This is an area of conflict the general reader is unlikely to be even remotely aware of, but Fortey explains the clash and argues very clearly for pure taxonomy to be the basis of future funded work.
Reading this book, the reader gets the impression that for our fossil loving author, and many of the eccentric colleagues he describes, their work is a deeply held vocation. It is easy to admire and even envy them, working in such a fantastic and magical place.
Fortey's 'biography' of the Natural History Museum is everything that my crushingly disappointing first visit to the NHM was not. On my second ever visit to London, I dragged myself to Kensington, jetlagged and with a raging flu, yet hoping to see just a fraction of the collection that I had dreamt of since childhood. What did I find? A kiddy playground of flashing lights, endless interactive 'multimedia' exhibits involving pushing buttons and buzzing noises, and lots of embedded screens showing films of everything BUT the collection. It was one of the biggest letdowns of my life. If there was any science going on, I certainly didn't see it. It felt more like a suburban amusement park.
Perhaps I am being unkind and grumpy, or perhaps I have gone mad and in my flu-ridden state did not see the brilliant exhibits hidden just 'round the corner. But my overwhelming impression was one of disappointment... especially knowing what objects would have been lurking behind the public galleries.
Of course the kiddies need their entertainment, and museums are a great way of engaging them with science early on. But a little bit of content for those of us over the age of 12 would not have gone astray. I can understand a lesser institution resorting to bells and whistles and things that go 'wheee' to get the punters in... but Britain's Natural History Museum??
Anyway, back to Dr Fortey's wonderful book... I can't help but wonder if some of his colleagues are still talking to him after the publication of 'Dry Store Room No. 1'! Fortey's delightfully gossipy stories about the eccentrics and obsessives he worked with over the course of his long career are just as entertaining as the history of the collection itself. I admit to finding some bits hard going (I believe it was the molluscs), but it is nevertheless a wonderful book that I have re-read more than once.
It's a tad depressing to realise that the era of universities and museums as havens for an assortment of misfits and weirdos is long over, and that such institutions are now just as rife with 'performance targets', 'outcomes' and 'benchmarking' as any other workplace. Nonetheless I am grateful to Dr Fortey for providing us with such a personal insight into the Museum's history. Long may he, and it, reign.
Anyone who lives in or visits London should pay more than one visit to this marvelous place, and thanks to this book they will be well briefed as to what goes and has gone on there.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Children's Books > Fiction > Science Fiction & Fantasy
- Books > Science & Nature > Earth Sciences & Geography > Palaeontology
- Books > Science & Nature > History & Philosophy > History of Science
- Books > Science & Nature > Nature
- Books > Scientific, Technical & Medical > Earth Sciences
- Books > Travel & Holiday > Atlases & Maps
- Books > Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > General