Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Natural History Museum at Tring

Note: This post contains photos of taxidermied animals. They're cute and amusing, but I feel I should warn you just in case.

For those of you that know me in real life, the thought that I was excited by a visit to the Natural History Museum's Tring Museum will come as no surprise - the main event in London being one of my favourite places in the world. Indeed, such a fan of the NHM am I, that I must have been 20 times since moving to London 2 years ago, including on my birthday. I was even lucky enough to do my main Masters research in association with the museum (and London Zoo, because I am a lucky girl!)

The Tring Museum houses the collections of Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, one of the greatest collectors in British History. Throughout the latter part of the 19th Century Lord Rothschild collected (figures from the NHM's website here) :

  • 2000 Mounted Mammals
  • 2000 Mounted Birds
  • 2 million butterflies and moths
  • 300,000 bird skins
  • 200,000 birds eggs
  • 144 giant tortoises
As you do.

I had never been to Tring before, but the zoologist in me was very keen, and when Andrew's Mam suggested we made an Easter weekend trip I couldn't wait! The museum is very easy to get to from London, only 30 minutes on the train and then a short bus or taxi ride away.

Upon arrival, the first main gallery houses the taxidermified birds, cats, bears and primates, including a polar bear and at least a dozen great apes, in a variety of poses. All of the exhibits in the museum are original specimens from Lord Rothschild's collection, and as such are at least 100 years old. Therefore, these specimens provide a unique snapshot of a time when hunting such magnificent creatures for sport was not an uncommon activity for the wealthy.

I was very inspired by some of the beautiful patterning on many of the birds, and I can't help but feel there's some knitwear dying to leap out in response to these beautiful shapes and colours:

This is an Ocelated Turkey from Central America, those greens and golds are just wonderful (definitely a silk knit!)

This is a Lady Amhearst's Pheasant from Southwest China - such a fantastic collar!

I can't remember what these guys are, but aren't they lovely! I must remember that not everyone loves brown as much as I do, but still, look!

There were a few other excitements, most notably (and I was massively massively excited about this), the posession and display of the museum of a Thylacine, or Tasmanian Wolf, an animal that has been extinct since 1932. And in the most wonderful condition;

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the museum also contained it's fair share of hilarious taxidermy, with which I leave you. I hope if I'm ever preserved for history I get to amuse as many people as these guys.

1 comment:

  1. I adore the NHM too! I spent many, many hours both there and in Tring as a child. My Dad was archivist for the NHM until he died in 1999, so I have a very strong bond to the place. Lovely to see your pictures - I haven't been to Tring in years and years. Must take Jim there. Can't wait to see the designs your trip inspires...
    Jen x