After a long day wrangling everything from massive dinosaurs to unicellular diatoms – and the small matter of 5 million human visitors a year! – the staff of the Mother of all Museums take a breather outside the entrance of the Waterhouse Building. Surely one of the world’s most visually entrancing buildings – as ornate and intricate as the inside of a Victorian botanist/zoologist/geologist’s mind – every piece of stone and panel a decorative joy. The exuberant work was created by a Liverpudlian architect, Alfred Waterhouse, and completed in 1881. Not born into a family of slouchers (his brothers founded what are now Price Waterhouse Coopers and Field Fisher Waterhouse Law Firm), Alfred proved himself worthy of the family name by having a hand in, it seems, every major building built in the British Isles from the imposing Strangeways Prison in Manchester to the beautiful Pembroke College at Cambridge.
Still a hotbed of gorgeous wonderment – (by chance David Attenborough has launched his Natural History Museum in 3D show for New Year 2014*) – the NHM also does honour to the global artist and the need to make the human race more aware of their companions on the planet through the annual Wildlife Photographer Award. Even the under 10’s get a chance to be recognised for images where some adult (yes parents, that’s you) have made them stand out in the savannah as a mini-meal for wandering predators in the name of precocious achievement. One Canadian highly commended junior snapper got up at 4.30am to wait with his Dad to photograph a Wolverine. Hugh Jackman would have been proud. And if your day job is dull and you’d like to join the NHM team there are some cool jobs going at moment:
Job spot 1 – PDRA Dinosaur scanning and visualisation. Yes that’s a real job and it sounds amazing.
Job spot 2 – Wallace Correspondence Archivist
Alfred Russell Wallace being the man who almost pipped Darwin to the post in publishing a Theory of Evolution after his work in the Far Indies (he wrote to Darwin from the Maluku Islands) but who, in a gentlemanly manner, subsumed his work into that of Darwin to co-present at the Linnean Society on their shared ideas which led to Darwin’s accelerated publication of On the Origin of Species. The NHM today recognises the shared contributions of both to our understanding of life on Earth.
*It’s on Sky so I sadly can’t add any more to the Murdoch media machine here … although I do hope the project to clone David Attenborough is happening through the income. For the Wildlife Photos it really is worth a virtual visit here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/temporary-exhibitions/wpy/index.jsp For a bit more on the architecture and the architect – http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/history-architecture/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Waterhouse