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The Secret Museum Hardcover – 28 Feb 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (28 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007455283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007455287
  • Product Dimensions: 19.5 x 2.9 x 25.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘A unique tome… beautifully researched.’ The Sun

‘Startlingly brilliant … I’ve rarely read a book so fuelled by sheer enthusiasm. It’s all quite delightful, a brilliant idea executed with great charm and unceasing joie de vivre’ Daily Mail

‘Oldfield’s genius is to see that museums have more stuff than they can display, and to persuade curators to show her their buried treasures … her cabinet of curiosities reveals very engaging personality’ Times

‘[Molly Oldfield] selects 60 of the most interesting and iconic artefacts from museum archives … and tells their stories in fact, fiction, history and enthusiastic, interesting anecdote’ Saga Magazine

‘This gorgeous golden-jacketed book is totally brilliant … It’s one of those rare solution presents too, great for anyone of any age’ A Little Bird

About the Author

Molly has been a writer and researcher on 9 series of the landmark BBC1 programme QI, presented by Stephen Fry, and has spent that time honing her ability to bring the most interesting and entertaining fragments of information to light. She also writes a weekly QI column in the Saturday Telegraph and researches QI's sister Radio 4 programme, The Museum of Curiosity.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like books. Simple as that. I like e-books and my Kindle makes life easier when I'm on the move. But I like proper, old-fashioned printed books even more. And every so often, one comes along that is so beautifully produced that it could never, ever be as lovely made from pixels. Molly Oldfield's 'The Secret Museum' is one of them.

It's lavishly illustrated with drawings and photos, the layout is beautiful and it stinks of quality. That extends to the content too - primarily why I bought the book, of course. It describes a fascinating cabinet of curiosities brought blinking into the light from out of the dark, secret rooms at the back and below the public areas of museums; 60 extraordinary treasures like Francis Crick's first doodle of the structure of DNA (Object 10), Livingstone's and Stanley's hats (Object(s) 30), the tools that once belonged to Queen Victoria's dentist (Object 51), and Nabokov's butterfly genitalia cabinet (No, really, it's Object 12). Every chapter shows us something that we'd otherwise never see. And every item, in some way, marks a moment in history when art or science or discovery took a step forward.

This is one of the nicest books I've seen and read in a very long time. If you can afford it, get the hardcover now. While I'm sure any future paperbook or e-book edition will be quite splendid, they won't be quite as good as this edition. If, for no other reason, because this book is just about heavy enough to swat away an angry Exu (Object 29).

Very probably, one of the best books I'll buy this year.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this. Like many others, I have never thought much about all the amazing objects that are not in the glass cases with the descriptive cards and this beautifully written and produced book redresses the balance. Molly Oldfield gives us a personal tour through some of the best of these treasures. What really stands out is the variety of the museums - and the objects themselves - both in terms of geography and in the way they span the humanities and the sciences. Finding such a range of objects so fascinating is flattering to a reader's sense of themselves as quite the polymath - when in fact, it really comes down to the author's concise, informative and entertaining style and the breadth of her understanding of the value of this hidden inheritance. Thankyou so much for this brilliant book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a rare instance where you can judge a book by its cover - glittering gold, this book is truly a delight. The author lovingly tells the story of 60 different objects hidden in archives and stores around the world - spacesuits, Van Gogh's sketchbooks, blue whales, bits of Mars, sleds, explorers' hats.

The book is a glorious mix of different delights, and each object proves the gateway to a very different story as Molly takes the reader on a journey first into the storerooms of museums around the world - NASA's spacesuit storage springs to mind - and then into the world of the object itself. As you might expect from a QI writer the emphasis is on what is interesting and curious, rather than on the dry and academic. The writing is fresh, lively, and above all, accessible - this is a book written for everyone. And the production of the book is just sumptious: full colour, glossy pages, and just the most lovely illustrations. A real treasure - 5 out of 5.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me say ,right away, that this is a superb book. The only thing spoiling it is that the pictures of the objects are tiny (roughly 5cm x 4cm). There are about 60 objects described, with interesting and very readable text. Each object is preceded by a WHOLE PAGE just saying what the object is and where it is displayed. WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY LOST. How I longed for a full page photograph of each object. The picture of the Vasa for instance is only 2.5cm x 4 cm. Perhaps the idea was to give a taster, thereby encouraging people to visit the museums and try to see the objects themselves, but I fear this is not the case (and would not anyway be easy).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was really well reviewed in the Daily Mail and the price was really good on Amazon. The idea of the book, to discover the items stored behind the scenes at museums and the stories behind them was really interesting. The only bad thing I found was that the photographs of the very interesting samples and specimens were so small!
I do like reading and the background details are well presented and researched, but I was looking forward to seeing detailed photographs of the items - maybe copyyright or some other reason only allows the smaller images. This is a really interesting book, apart from the main point about the photographs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book about museums. It appears to be aimed at a family audience and would probably appeal to young adults. The author is a researcher for British television program 'QI' and the book reads like a research tome for that program. It is a somewhat beautiful thing with a patina of fascination about it. The content is a little patchy but more frequently absorbing than not. The emphasis tends not to be on the secrecy, as suggested by the title, but more on the museum and context of the objects mentioned. The work scores most highly on being unique.
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