Letter (WCP2216.2106)


Ja[nuar]y 17/ [18]69.

My dear Wallace

I have read your paper on Museums with great pleasure & thank you for it.1 It appears to me sound & just, & there are one or two points that I shall apply to the Kew Museum.2

The only doubt I should have in a practical point of view is in regard to the Ethnological department — how far it should perhaps be appended [2] to a N[atural]. H[istory]. Museum[.] A few skulls or photographs would not be out of place, but I think that articles of clothing & art would be — it is broaching a new subject altogether. Nor do I see why you should illustrate pictorial art (from the pictorial delineation of the Mammoth & Landseer) & not every other variety of art & manufacture. I do not think that the public would be satisfied with [3] a very imperfect idea of the progress of civilization as such a museum could alone contain, & it would be impossible for the Director (whose word would be law as to what should be collected & displayed of Plants Animals & Plants) to be an authority in such matters— Further if you go into this, so you should into the anatomy & physiology of the human [one illeg].

I hope that with Mr Fergusson3 in the B[oard]. of works4 we shall have something good in the way of Museum buildings.


Have you ever seen the enclosed5 — which we printed over ten years ago!

Most truly yours | Jos D Hooker [signature]

Wallace, A. R. 1869. Museums for the People. Macmillan's Magazine. 19: 244-250.
The Kew Museum of Economic Botany was founded by William Hooker in 1847 with the object to show the practical applications of botanical science. The museum displayed botanical specimens alongside manufactured artefacts and was designed to educate popular, scientific and commercial users. (Cornish, C. & Driver, F. 2020. ‘Specimens Distributed’: The circulation of objects from Kew’s Museum of Economic Botany, 1847–1914. Journal of the History of Collections. 32(2), 327-340).
Fergusson, James (1808-1886). British architectural historian.
Hooker refers to the Metropolian Board of Works, established by Benjamin Hall in 1855 to assume responsibility for urban improvements such as streets and sewage. James Fergusson was appointed as Secretary of Works and Buildings by First Commissioner Austen Henry Layard on 14 January 1869. (Whitehead, C. 2005. The Public Art Museum in Nineteenth Century Britain: The Development of the National Gallery. Aldershot: Ashgate. [p.92]).
The word "enclosed" is circled by ARW in pencil.

Please cite as “WCP2216,” in Beccaloni, G. W. (ed.), Ɛpsilon: The Alfred Russel Wallace Collection accessed on 25 February 2024, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/wallace/letters/WCP2216