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The grand staircase with the statue of Prince Albert in pride of place. Originally built as a memorial to Prince Albert, the museum has been a centre for education in Exeter since 1869. Various plaques and busts to eminent Exeter worthies, who promoted the museum, were on display on the walls of the entrance and landing area.
The Sladen Gallery was a celebration of Victorian Britain's thirst for maritime, scientific expedition. Preserved creatures from the oceans of the world were on display; many were collected by HMS Challenger during 1872, when she set sail for a 68,000 mile journey around the world with a team of scientists led by Professor Wyville Thomson. The expedition trawled starfish up from Sydney Harbour, jellyfish from a thousand fathoms in the Pacific and specimens from Japan, Hawaii and Patagonia. Walter Percy Sladen, a gentleman biologist, owned Northbrook House at Countess Wear. He classified many of Challenger's starfish, and was the eminent expert in his field. I hope the museum integrates the story of the Challenger into the display of this collection when they re-open in 2010.
When I visited the museum to take these photographs on the 29th November, work was well advanced at emptying the displays and storing the exhibits - this is the Islam glass case emptied of its artefacts.
Another area, the World Culture gallery, with some thin displays, as the staff have removed and stored many exhibits. A costume and head dress from a mysterious and exotic place somewhere in the tropics, that can be reached in a few hours by Airbus is still on show.
A photo essay of the RAMM would not be complete without the old favourite, Gerald the Giraffe. Within days of the final closing, Gerald was supported with packing and carefully tipped over in preparation for moving from his gallery.
In the Natural History gallery the large African tableau was still in place - an evocative little grouping that is as far from the reality of African wildlife as Prince Albert was from being a mill worker.
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