Exhibition: Daring Explorers, Natural History Museum at Tring, Tring, until November 18 2012
© Natural History Museum
Disaster stalks the heroes of this show: there are tales of vital lost scientific notes in Indonesia, specimens stranded in Hawaii with penniless explorers, capsized canoes in remote areas of New Guinea and, in the case of Charles M Harris at the end of the 19th century, an expedition to the Galapagos which ended in a captain killed by yellow fever and shipmates who abandoned their craft or had to be sacked for drunkenness.
Victorian scientists, it seems, frequently risked their lives to collect the animals and plants which shape much of our understanding of the world today. So perhaps it’s only fair to ask us to imagine being shipwrecked on a tiny island after half our crew have died (in pursuit of 30 giant tortoises which guarantee payment on return to British shores) and we’ve eaten our last hunting dog .
Victorian dressing up features highly, as do collector challenges, last-gasp letters, photos and accounts of rhino attacks, typhoid and shipwrecks. The specimens and equipment which made it home make for an equally revealing – if decidedly happier – story.
- Open 10am-5pm (2pm-5pm Sunday). Admission free.