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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0060 DF EXH
Held at: Natural History Museum
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Date(s): 1939-1983
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 3 series
Name of creator(s): Exhibition Section | Natural History Museum
Education Section | Natural History Museum
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The exhibition galleries were, from the time of their first development, the responsibility of the Keeper of the respective science departments, with the Director having control of the Central and North halls through the staff of the Index Museum. John Priestman Doncaster (1907-1981) was appointed in 1937 to assist the Director in this area, and undertook some work in the departmental galleries as well as in Central Hall. Creation of a centralised Exhibition Section was proposed in 1938, and realised once Doncaster returned from war service in 1946. By the end of 1947 the Section comprised the Exhibitions Officer, two modellers, two guide lecturers, two printers and two assistants. Its aim was to relieve the departments of the burden of producing exhibitions, and to ensure harmony of style and treatment throughout the Museum. A procedure for preparation of exhibitions was agreed in 1950 which left planning and design in the hands of the departments, and most of the production with the Exhibition Section.

Doncaster moved to Entomology in 1951 and was succeeded by Mary (Mona) Rosalie Jane Edwards (1902-1994), who had been Guide Lecturer since 1932. The Museum photographers were attached to the Section in 1955, and by 1960 staff numbered twenty five, all in scientific grades. In 1963 the productivity of the Section was criticised by the Director, and contrast unfavourably with the contract work carried out for the new Botany Gallery, and Miss Edwards was retired the following year. The Section was split in 1970 into an Exhibition Section with seventeen posts led by Michael George Belcher (1942-1993), an Education Section with five posts headed by Frank Hatton Brightman (1921-1996), and a Photographic Section with eight posts under Peter John Green (b 1932). The Photographic Section was transferred to the Department of Central Services in 1974, and Exhibitions and Education were incorporated into the new Department of Public Services in 1975.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Exhibition Section and the Education Section of the Natural History Museum, 1939-1983, comprising: DF700 Exhibition Section Project Files; DF701 Exhibition Section Internal Administration; and DF702 Education Section Files.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

As outlined in the Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

By appointment with the Archivist, by email to or by post to the Museum Archivist, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the Archivist's discretion. Photocopying service available. Digital photography (without flash) permitted for research purposes on completion of a photography permit form.

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Transferred from the Exhibition and Education sections.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The archives of the Index Museum are held in DF938 and the photographic registers in DF503.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Entry copied from the Natural History Museum online catalogue by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Sep 2008

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