One of the e-books I bought for my Kindle is Richard Fortey’s Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum. It’s fun to follow Fortey on his journey through the back rooms and store rooms of the Natural History Museum in England, where he worked for many years. I’ve only recently started the book, but I’m enjoying learning how items are organized and stored in a museum, especially as compared to how they are organized and stored in a library or a home-based bookshop like mine. Fortey’s writing about his feelings for his museum artifacts remind me of my own feelings for books.
Here are a few gems I like so far:
“Diplodocus [a dinosaur fossil] was proudly in place when I first came to the Natural History Museum as a little boy in the 1950s, and it was still there when I retired in 2006. I am always glad to see it; not that I regard a constructed replica of an ancient fossil as an old friend, it is just consoling to pass the time of day with something that changes little in a mutable world.”
“I was being paid to do work that I would have done for nothing. I had a season ticket to a world of wonders.”
When describing some very old cabinets made for storing some of the collections, he states: “The cabinets were beautifully crafted. Each drawer had an independently suspended glass top to keep out the dust. The mortise and tenon joints that formed the corners of the drawers would have struck dumb any carpenter. Labels on the front of each drawer recorded the scientific names of the fossils within. They were cupboards made for eternity.” [Editor’s Note: Much like those Louis XV Bibliotheques I crave.]
So far, it’s a good read. I’ll let you know when I am finished whether I’d have preferred to read the actual book over the electronic, Kindle version. In fact, I plan to write another update on my use of the Kindle now that I’ve had it almost a month.
For now, though, it’s back to the museum!