The Specimens

Daniel Boyd, Pemulwuy and the Buccaneers of the Age of Reason

Daniel Boyd: king no beard, oil on canvas, 290 x 178 cm, 2007

We are all familiar with histories of colonisations as written by Europeans. Although the perspectives of those being colonised are most often lost, the conflicts brought about by colonisers in the past are still with us. The Natural History Museum in London invited Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd from Sydney, Australia, to address this imbalance of [...]

Submitted by: Bergit Arends | Leave a comment

My Favourite Specimen: Plastinated Sections

Plastinates in lightbox

Here at the Museums and Archives of the Royal College of Surgeons we have over 75,000 objects and 600 archive collections. Every specimen, every manuscript, has the capacity to tell a fascinating story about the history of surgery, health, science and/or the body. Some are centuries old, most famously the seventeenth-century anatomical preparations known as [...]

Submitted by: Sam Alberti | Leave a comment

Dodo (Raphus cucullatus), Natural History Museum London, 1942-46

Dodo, London 1942-46

When Alice went through the looking glass into Wonderland, she encountered freaks of nature such as a mad hatter and a green-striped cat. She also met a species that had gone extinct long ago when Lewis Carroll published the story in 1865: the dodo, a large flightless bird and native of Mauritius fearless of people. [...]

Submitted by: Petra Lange-Berndt | Leave a comment

Gould’s Hummingbirds, Natural History Museum, Tring

Gould NHM Agyrtria viridiceps, hummingbird display

The small, octagonal vitrine in the Natural History Museum in Tring’s library is but one of 62 original cases purchased by the British Museum (Natural History) following the death of the famous ornithologist John Gould in 1881, the same year the museum opened its new location in South Kensington. Gould, famed for his exuberant yet [...]

Submitted by: Pandora Syperek | Leave a comment


Peter Friedl: Zoo Story, installation, Kassel 2007

At the 12th documenta taking place in Kassel in 2007 the artist Peter Friedl exhibited Zoo Story, comprising simply a stuffed giraffe called Brownie. Before being stuffed Brownie had been living in Qalkilyah Zoo on the West Bank but died as a consequence of an attack by Israeli troops on a Hamas camp close by. [...]

Submitted by: Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir / Mark Wilson | Leave a comment