and subsequently printed by order of the House of Commons (Parl. Papers, 121, i. fol. 1859). At the outset his scheme was rejected by the government, who held that a supplementary exhibition gallery to the British Museum was all that was reasonably required. The scientific public, the officers of the museum, and the trustees were much divided as to whether it would be better to endeavour to obtain ground for an extension in the neighbourhood of the existing museum, or to remove a portion of the collection to another locality. After some apparent hesitation, Owen threw himself strongly on the side of those who took the latter view, and he urged upon the government, and upon the public generally, in annual museum returns, lectures, and pamphlets, the desirability of the scheme. By 1863 opinion had sufficiently advanced for the purchase of land at South Kensington to be voted in parliament, but it was not until ten years later that the building was actually commenced. It was opened to the public in 1881. In his address as president of the Biological Section of the British Association at the York meeting in 1881, Owen gave a history of the part he took in promoting the building of the new museum, including his success in enlisting the sympathy of Mr. Gladstone, by whose powerful aid the difficulties and opposition with which the plan was met in parliament were mainly overcome. His earlier views upon the subject are fully explained in a small work entitled ‘On the Extent and Aims of a National Museum of Natural History,’ published in 1862, being an expansion of the lecture he gave at the Royal Institution in the previous year. Much controversy arose as to the best principle of museum organisation. Owen adhered to the old view of a public exhibition on a very extensive scale, while the greater number of naturalists of the time preferred the system of dividing the collections into a comparatively limited public exhibition, the bulk of the specimens being kept in a manner accessible only to the researches of advanced students. The Royal Commission on the Advancement of Science, of which the Duke of Devonshire was chairman, investigated the subject fully, and reported (in 1874) in favour of the latter view; but in the new building at South Kensington there was, unfortunately, little provision made for carrying it out in a satisfactory manner.
In 1859, in his report to the trustees, Owen recommended that the new museum building, ‘besides giving the requisite accommodation to the several classes of natural history objects, as they had been by authority exhibited and arranged for public instruction and gratification, should also include a hall or exhibition space for a distinct department, adapted to convey an elementary knowledge of the subjects of all the divisions of natural history to the large proportion of public visitors not specially conversant with any of those subjects.’ And subsequently he advocated, with greater distinctness, ‘an apartment devoted to the specimens selected to show type characters of the principal groups of organised and crystallised forms. This would constitute an epitome of natural history, and should convey to the eye, in the easiest way, an elementary knowledge of the sciences.’ In every modification which the plans of the new building underwent, a hall for the purpose indicated in the above passages formed a prominent feature, being in the later stages of the development of the building, called, for want of a better name, the ‘Index Museum.’ Though Owen gave the suggestion and designed the general plan of the hall, the arrangement of its contents was left to his successor to carry out.
In another part of his original scheme he was less successful. The lecture theatre which he had throughout urged with great pertinacity as a necessary accompaniment to a natural history museum, was, as he says in the address referred to above, ‘erased from my plan, and the elementary courses of lectures remain for future fulfilment.’
On several other important questions of museum arrangement Owen allowed his views, even when essentially philosophical as well as practical, to be overruled. As long ago as December 1841 he submitted to the museum committee of the Royal College of Surgeons the question of incorporating in one catalogue and system of arrangement the fossil bones of extinct animals with the specimens of recent osteology; and shortly afterwards laid before the committee a report pointing out the advantages of such a plan. Strangely enough, though receiving the formal approval of the council, no steps were taken to carry it out as long as he was at the college. He returned to the question in reference to the arrangement of the new National Museum, and, although no longer advocating so complete an incorporation of the two series, apparently in consideration of the interests of the division into ‘departments’ which he found in existence there, he says: ‘The department of zoology in such a museum should be so located as to afford the easiest transit from the specimens of existing to those of extinct animals. The geologist specially devoted to the study of the evidence of extinct vegetation ought, in like manner, to have means of comparing his