The Work of the Natural History Museum

posted by Alan Copeland in Club Meetings

David Smith, one of our club members, gave us a fascinating evening when he shared with us the history and the present day workings of this fine museum in South Kensington.

In the first half of the evening, David traced the history of the museum right back to its original founders and showed us copies of the original plans and drawings for the building. Built in the gothic Victorian style, the museum has many delicate touches such as the stone monkeys climbing along the arches supporting the roof area.

He then explained his position within the framework as Petrology Curator in the Earth Sciences Department and showed many images of the various aspects of his work, each day being entirely different from the previous one.

In the second half, he gave us a detailed account of a recent expedition he undertook on behalf of the museum to gather samples of volcanic rock from Mt Popocatepetl in Mexico. This is one of the few remaining active volcanoes in the world today and David explained that there are normally 60 to 70 eruptions of various strengths every day.

David and the team had special permission to climb higher to areas normally off-limits to the public and, with steam and vapours continually pouring out of the top, it was quite an adrenaline rush knowing that a major eruption could take place any minute.

Thanks, David, for a very interesting evening beautifully illustrated with your superb images of both the museum and the volcano.


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