Today I was extremely lucky, because I had the opportunity to draw behind the scenes at the NHM. I must thank Daisy Cunynghame for helping me to organise it, and Nichola Morris for her generous enthusiasm and hospitality.
This is the view from my host Nichola’s office window in the Palaeontology and Earth Sciences building. She gave me a tour of her building and took me to visit the Darwin Centre and Life Sciences building too. She told me that the best thing about it as a workplace is that everyone really loves the museum and is very proud of working there.
Downstairs in the basement, you can look out at visitors queueing for the side entrance. Little boys were climbing up on the railings to watch me drawing, and I waved at them.
Lots of little filing cabinets full of index cards. They have labels like ‘Cambrian, Devonian, Chitinozoan References, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Eocene, Miocene, Oligocene, Quaternary… General Information.’ Even a filing system organising eras of time must have a ‘Misc/Other’ section.
Here is a member of staff working very intently on something.
This is the model of Dippy the diplodocus that used to sit beneath the big replica fossil in the main entry hall — it’s been exiled to the basement because its tail was dragging on the ground and we now know that the tail should be swinging about. It can’t stand upright because it has nails sticking out of its feet.
Lots of cupboards full of specimens. There was evidence of scientists at work, but I saw hardly anybody around, apart from one friendly lady who stopped to ask what I was doing.
A cupboard full of horse and elephant skulls. This is the only workplace I’ve ever been to that has boxes labelled ‘elephant teeth’ sitting around.
Marsupial skeleton on the windowledge.
Some specimens in bubble wrap.
At the end of the day, I did a bit more drawing in the public area. I was sitting drawing a giant armadillo and children kept sidling up to me to watch the drawing develop. Most of them played with the spotlights in the floor.
The seasonal ice skating rink outside opened today, next to it there was a merry-go-round. It was jolly cold to be sitting outside drawing, but very festive.