A 'philosophical storehouse': the life and afterlife of the Royal Society's repository
In June 1781, the Royal Society’s repository was transferred to the British Museum. Though ostensibly as a result of the limited space in the Royal Society’s purpose-built accommodation at Somerset House, the Society were perhaps also a little relieved to relinquish a collection that had proved to be somewhat burdensome during its residence at the Society and which was frequently criticised for its decaying specimens, broken items and missing, possibly stolen, objects. However this seems to be only part of the story. Drawing upon manuscript material in the Royal Society and the British Library, this study will examine the repository’s pattern of usage, collecting strategies and intellectual output throughout its life, in addition to exploring its afterlife at the British Museum using the British Museum’s, Royal College of Surgeon’s and Natural History Museum’s extensive archives. This thesis will seek to reveal an alternative account of the Royal Society’s repository arguing that it was comprised of a substantial and significant collection that the British Museum, at least initially, appears to have been grateful to receive and which, periodically, played a central role in the Society’s and naturalists' work.
AuthorsThomas, Jennifer M.
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