Although my main role is Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology, one of my responsibilities is to act as Curator for the Galton Collection. Francis Galton (1822-1911) is best known today for being a pioneer of modern eugenics, a fingerprint enthusiast and a cousin of Charles Darwin. The collection consists of over 500 objects, largely made up of Galton’s personal belongings and scientific instruments. Although small, the Galton Collection provokes a great deal of interest from both researchers and artists, partly due to the relevance of many of the themes and questions it raises in terms of identify, race and human rights.
As the Galton is a small research collection that is available for viewing only by appointment, one of my main remits is to promote and facilitate loans to exhibitions taking place in other museums. In this way, as many people as possible get to access this material in a way that they wouldn’t do ordinarily. This is quite a time-consuming process, but the rewards are great – for example, the Wellcome Collection dedicated a large section of their excellent exhibition The Identity Project to Galton, meaning that nearly 80,000 people accessed a large chunk of the UCL Galton material in just a few months. It also means that the items can be seen by an international audience – I have just had loan of seven objects returned from the Hygiene Museum in Dresden.