23 January, 2017

The unburnt egg: more stories of a museum curator by Brian Gill

Three decades in the role of curator of land vertebrates at Auckland Museum managing a collection of 20,000 natural history specimens has provided Brian Gill with a wealth of fascinating stories.

His behind the scenes glimpses of the work that goes into building natural history collections show us the important role museums play in allowing researchers to study changes in organisms over time while the stories of the original collectors take us back to Victorian times where from 1876 to the early 1930’s the museum was in Princes Street on a site now occupied by a high-rise hotel.

The author’s main fields of interest were the life history of New Zealand cuckoos and songbirds and the palaeontology of extinct New Zealand birds. This book follows on from his previous book, The owl that fell from the sky.

The story of how the museum acquired one of its moa eggs from a house fire is intriguing. Moa eggs are rarely found whole as they are thin shelled and Auckland Museum has three virtually whole eggs. There are only thirty-six near complete moa eggs in the world!

Other tales cover huias, rats, seals, king penguins, skinks and flying frogs.

I loved this small volume, read it one sitting and absorbed a lot of new information but best of all it’s sparked a renewed interest in visiting Auckland Museum again.

Title: The unburnt egg: more stories of a museum curator
Author: Brian Gill

Claire S enjoys reading anything relating to New Zealand.


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