HC Deb 18 May 1893 vol 12 cc1263-4

I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education whether it is the case that a collection of plaster casts of fish, and models for fish culture, and a sum for eventually founding a curatorship were left by the late Frank Buckland, and accepted by the Kensington Museum for the nation; whether he is aware that the collection is in a very neglected state; that many specimens have been lying on a piece of building land for many months exposed to the weather, and are now so much damaged as to be useless; and, that those which remain are deteriorating in an old and damp shed; whether the collection is considered of sufficient general interest and value to be preserved; and, if so, whether immediate steps can be taken to place and keep it in a proper state; whether, for this purpose, the terms of the legacy admit of the collection being transferred to the Natural History Museum; and whether such transfer can be effected?


Under the will of the late Mr. F. Buckland, his collection illustrative of fish culture was bequeathed to the South Kensington Museum, together with the reversion of a, sum of money in which his widow was to have a life interest. Certain specimens were some years ago removed from the collection as being useless or unsuitable for exhibition, and some of these have, no doubt, deteriorated. I am not aware of any deterioration in those specimens which are exhibited. The building in which they are cannot be said to be very suitable for a museum, but the collection is believed to be quite in as good a condition as when Mr. Buckland left it. A Treasury Committee, of which Sir J. Evans was Chairman, reported in 1889 that it was desirable that the collection should be removed from South Kensington. In order to transfer the trust, the sanction of the Court of Chancery, or possibly of an Act of Parliament, would be necessary. The authorities of the Natural History Museum declined to receive the collection. The Department has been in communication with the Marine Biological Association to endeavour to arrange for a transfer of the trust, but hitherto without success.