The funding hasn’t come through yet but I always planned to make a contribution myself so last Friday I bought the first 20 drawers from Max Barclay at the Natural History Museum in London! I didn’t have to buy them so quickly but I wanted to make a tangible start to the project and it coincided very nicely with my girlfriend wanting a trip up to London so … I am now the proud owner of 20 hardwood drawers – glass-topped and unlined.
Max (curator of beetles and one of the new faces of the Darwin Center) also kindly agreed to provide me with as many secondhand large unit-trays as I needed – they are slightly short but in all other respects fit the drawers perfectly. I also have an option to buy new unit-trays through the museum – they’re not cheap though so I am counting my pennies and trying to use secondhand as much as possible.
Unit trays are quite a problem because, although you might think that a ‘unit’ implies a standard size, there are multiple sizes. Oxford University Museum and Edinburgh have standardized on a wide ‘accession-type’ drawer; while the Natural History Museum & Cardiff Museum have standardized on a narrower, squarer design of drawer. There are other sizes too and the whole thing screams out for a revision but these massive museums have so many drawers already that it would cost a fortune to rehouse them, not to mention the years of work to transfer specimens into new drawers … sadly it will never happen.