Beetles! Alfred Russel Wallace’s Specimens.

Hello! Welcome to my Beetles! series. I am the behind-the-scenes photographer in the beetles department at the Natural History Museum (aka the ‘Coleoptera section of the Terrestrial Invertebrates Division’). The collection is an enormous jewel box of six-legged beauty, and I’ve got plenty of photos to share!

For the last few months, I’ve had the incredible job of photographing Alfred Russel Wallace’s type specimens from the NHM beetle collections. I was so honoured to be able to see his specimens up close, to handle them, and to scrutinise his tiny hand-writing with my very own eyes! 50 of my Wallace photos are featured on the Natural History Museum Flickr page, and you can see them there in spectacular high-res glory!

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If you have any interest in science or the natural world, you’ll want to look Wallace up. Wallace was not only Charles Darwin’s co-publisher, he was also an intrepid explorer, a gentleman, a badass and a beetle geek. For these reasons, he easily makes it into my list of All Time Heroes.

November 7th marked the centenary of Alfred Russel Wallace‘s death. To mark the occasion, a statue of Wallace by the sculptor Anthony Smith was unveiled at the Natural History Museum. I was lucky enough to be there, and I listened to David Attenborough, Bill Bailey and Richard Wallace (Alfred’s grandson) say some very inspiring words. (If you haven’t already seen Bill Bailey’s A+ series of documentaries about Wallace, check ‘em out here!)

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I like that the statue depicts Wallace in his prime: all dressed up in field gear and brandishing a butterfly net with a  look of wonder and delight on his face! He may be looking up towards a shiny beetle, but I reckon we can all look up to him.

To see the full set of beetle photos, click here.

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5 thoughts on “Beetles! Alfred Russel Wallace’s Specimens.

  1. Great! Beautiful set and nicely done!!!
    Are you shooting these in ambient light? I can see what looks to be windows in some of the shinier beetles.

  2. Yes, I am! You have eagle eyes! I find that ambient light works nicely for bringing out the colours in the specimens.

  3. Thanks you! That’s the best way to store them in a museum collection, Veronica – and don’t worry, they’re only pinned when they’re already dead!

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