Last week, members of our conservation team were presented with a wonderful opportunity to get out of the ‘Whale Tank’ and make their way to London to escort some very special specimens to the BBC.
The precious cargo consisted of newly-discovered Alfred Russel Wallace butterfly specimens that were uncovered in the Museum’s Life Collection by 17-year-old Athena Martin, a Nuffield Research Placements work experience student. This story featured on Thursday night’s edition of The One Show, where presenter Mike Dilger spoke about Athena’s project with the Museum and was able to show, on national television, the fruit of her hard work.
Two cases of butterflies were used on the programme and contained specimens collected by Wallace during his exploration of the Malay Archipelago. The show focused in particular on Papilio ulysses, and it was a joy to witness Mike Dilger’s excitement at discovering Wallace’s handwritten collection labels.
Our specimens, which were shown alongside some wonderful footage of CT scans of a developing chrysalis, made for excellent viewing for anyone with an interest in Lepidoptera.
If you missed it the first time around please do have a look on the BBC iPlayer. The butterfly feature begins at about 15’40”.
We are very grateful for coverage on The One Show as it was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate, outside the Museum environment, the significance of natural history specimens, as well as highlight the important work of our conservators. It was also a thrill to be on set and watch the live show, so thanks a lot to the BBC for asking us along.
Nicola Crompton, Conservation intern
Gemma Aboe, Assistant conservator