The Natural History Museum Annual Review 2003 | 2004
Introduction The Director's Review Our Year World Class Science
Opening Up the Collection Darwin Centre Innovation 3 Million+ Visitors A Place for Learning
Working for Us Looking Ahead Our Supporters Financial Review
Corporate Governance Previous Years' Reports
(Annual Report Home - graphics and PDF)
Our Year
April / May / June / July / August / September / October / November / December / January / February / March

1. Inspired by the natural world - Peter Randall- Page's granite and bronze sculptures went on open-air display on the West Lawn.

2. The Country Cures mini-exhibition opened, featuring historical natural remedies collected by Museum botanist Roy Vickery.

3. The Museum and the National Biodiversity Network Trust launched the Species Dictionary at - an ambitious project bringing all the common and scientific names of native wildlife in the British Isles together in one place for the first time.

4. The main exhibition of 2003 at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum was Creatures from a Lost World: extinction through the eyes of an artist.


5. Performance artists Neil Thomas and Katy Bowman took up residence at the Museum for five weeks with young people from Holland Park School to create the Museum of Modern Oddities (MOMO), as part of the London International Festival of Theatre. The performance was received to critical acclaim and the accompanying exhibition displayed objects and artefacts from people's lives in an enjoyable and thought-provoking way.

6. In her LIFT lecture at the Museum, Dr Vandana Shiva spoke about cultural diversity and its interaction and relationship with biodiversity.

7. The Museum's new online picture library went live at, with improved features making it easier to access the Museum's 30,000 natural history images.

8. The Fancy Fleas exhibition enthralled visitors to South Kensington and Tring. The art of dressing fleas was popular in Mexico in the early nineteenth century - amongst the exhibits was a bride and groom in full marriage regalia.

9. Sir Neil Chalmers, pictured with staff at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum in Tring, announced his decision to retire as Director of the Museum after 16 years.


10. Art met biotechnology in the CleanRooms exhibition. Installations by contemporary artists challenged stereotypes and asked questions about the ethical issues involved in biotechnology. Visitors to Neal White's installation donned protective 'bunny suits' before entering his installation piece.

11. The Tring Festival Art Exhibition at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum gave more than 50 local artists an opportunity to display their work.

12. Gardeners learned how to attract wildlife at the Londoners' Wildlife Gardening Fayre, held on the Museum's West Lawn and organised by the London Biodiversity Partnership.


13. All visitors, including blind and partially-sighted visitors, were able to enjoy images from Earth from the Air, the open-air exhibition of photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. In a pioneering project, 30 tactile images were created to enhance the exhibition and develop a better understanding of the world around us.


14. Scavenger or predator? More than 360,000 visitors came to see the evidence for themselves in T. rex: The Killer Question. The exhibition has gone on to a sell-out international tour.

15. The Natural History Museum was named Large Visitor Attraction of the Year at the London Tourism Awards 2003.

16. Dr Richard Lane took up his post as Director of Science, succeeding Professor Paul Henderson.


17. We celebrated Sir Hans Sloane's life and legacy with a series of events and entertainments to mark the 250th anniversary of the great collector's death.

18. Six Museum palaeontologists went to the Manchester Fossils Roadshow to identify fossils brought in by members of the public.

19. The Museum teamed up with the Ramblers' Association to launch the Elm Map Walks - a unique collaboration of ramblers, scientists and conservationists in a project to identify and record Britain's remaining elm trees.

20. Museum palaeontologist Dr Jackie Skipper uncovered fossil oysters, shark teeth and exotic palm tree fossils that lived 55.5 million years ago at an excavation in London.


21. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition opened - Gerhard Schulz of Germany was the overall winner for his image of a gorilla and boy.

22. Evocative black-and-white images from the Museum's past went on display in Life Through a Lens: Photographs from the Natural History Museum 1880 to 1950.

23. Plants and Potions, an exhibition of June Crisfield Chapman's wood engravings of medicinal plants, opened at Tring.

24. Selections from the Museum's collection of nearly half a million works of natural history art went online at

25. The national launch of The Big Draw was hosted by the Museum in October. This annual event brings people together at hundreds of venues across the UK to participate in drawing activities.


26. Museum palaeontologists Professor Chris Stringer and Andy Currant discussed the Piltdown Man forgery with broadcaster Quentin Cooper in the 2003 Pfizer Annual Science Forum. The evidence went on display for all to see in a temporary exhibition.

27. The Wildlife Garden won first prize in the Brighter Kensington and Chelsea wildlife gardens category.

28. Museum botanists identified a new British fern species, discovered by an amateur naturalist near Wadebridge in Cornwall.

29. The Museum was appointed to manage and coordinate SYNTHESYS, a new EU-funded network of European natural history institutions.


30. Almost four million people watched the 2003 Royal Institution Christmas lectures on Channel 4, which were given by the Museum's Dr Monica Grady on the theme A Voyage in Space and Time.

31. The Wildlife Garden monitoring report was published, listing almost 2,000 species. Around 80 people from the Museum and other institutions monitor the garden's wildlife.


32. The Museum's National Whale Stranding Recording Scheme reported an unusual increase in the number of stranded harbour porpoises displaying injuries consistent with accidental capture in fishing nets. There were fewer common dolphin strandings relating to accidental capture than in 2003, but the number remains significantly higher than in previous years.

33. Dr Michael Dixon was appointed Director of the Natural History Museum in succession to Sir Neil Chalmers. Dr Dixon trained as a zoologist and gained his doctorate for work on trematode larvae. He worked in scientific, technical and medical publishing before becoming Director General of the Zoological Society of London in 1999.

34. A major new guide to copepods was published - these highly successful small arthropods live in a wide variety of marine habitats. The authors of An Introduction to Copepod Diversity are Museum scientists Geoff Boxshall and Sheila Halsey.

35. We celebrated the British Museum's new permanent exhibition Enlightenment in a series of Darwin Centre Live events. Items from the Natural History Museum's historical collections are on display in the exhibition.


36. John Kelly's multimedia art went on show in Due South: Art and the Antarctic.

37. The Egg: The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe opened at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum in Tring and was an immediate success with visitors.

38. Treasurehouse & Powerhouse, the independent report on the Museum's scientific, cultural and economic value, argued that we generate between £3.25 and £4.00 in wider economic benefit for each £1.00 of grant-in-aid.

39. We marked the 195th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth with a day of special events and activities.


40. 'GM crops are good for us' was the controversial motion of a debate held by the Museum in partnership with Intelligence Squared. The motion was defeated by 212 votes to 136.

41. Three new research reports from the National Museum Directors' Conference drew attention to the extraordinary cultural, educational, social and economic impact of the UK's national collections.

42. Rockefeller University in New York announced that Museum palaeontologist Professor Richard Fortey would be awarded the prestigious 2004 Lewis Thomas prize for his books and writings.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]