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I proceed with the resolutions of the select committee:
of the public access.
OF ACCESS TO THE MUSEUM. “9. That it is desirable that the hours during which the Museum shall be open on public days be hereafter from ten o'clock until seven, throughout the months of May, June, July, and August; and that the reading-room be opened throughout the year at nine o'clock in the morning.
“10. That it is desirable the Museum be hereafter open during the Easter, Whitsun, and Christmas weeks, except Sunday and Christmas-day."
These recommendations have been carried into effect, and in addition, the whole of the Museum* is opened on the public days (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) at nine o'clock in the morning, throughout the year. Two of the reserved days are, with much propriety, devoted chiefly to the greater accommodation of artists, students, and other persons desiring minute examination of the collections. The remaining day is devoted to the purposes of cleansing.
The most gratifying results have attended the opening of the Museum on the public holidays; immense crowds have visited it, and their behaviour has been exemplary.
Library and readingroom.
The extension of the reading-room hours has been also productive of great advantage; but many, whose opinion on this point deserves great respect, continue to think that nothing short of a special evening readingroom will bring the advantages of this, at present, our only national library within the reach of a large number, to whom it is most important they should be extended.
On this point it is highly worthy of notice that a
Except the medal and print-rooms.
petition was presented to the House of Commons in 1836, by Mr. Hawes, (with whom the enquiry into the Museum originated,) from the masters of the proprietary schools in and around London, expressing their anxiety to have access to the Museum library, and stating the impossibility of their obtaining it, unless provided for them in the evening. *
It has since been suggested † that it would be far better Library of if a special public library of education, or more than one, --See Apwere established, instead of adding so largely to the la- pendix. bours at the Museum, already very serious. In this suggestion, were it immediately practicable, I fully concur, but I fear there will be some delay; and the old proverb reverts to recollection. I
The twelfth resolution of the select committee is as follows:
“That it is desirable that the heads of departments do consult Synopsis, together as to the best method of preparing, on a combined system, an improved edition of the Synopsis ; that each officer be responsible for that part which is under his immediate control, and attach his signature thereto; and that the work be prepared in such a manner
• This petition was framed by Edwin Abbott, Esq. of the Philological School, in conjunction with the Reverend Principal of King's College School.
In the evidence of Mr. Panizzi.
I cannot allow this portion of the subject to pass, without adding my humble testimony to the great advantages bestowed upon the frequenters of the Museum library, by several improvements which have been introduced since the department of printed books has been under the control of Mr. Panizzi. The supply is much quicker, the catalogues are in better order, and an admirable arrangement has been adopted respecting the return of books which at once secures the due responsibility of the readers (heretofore fallacious) and greatly promotes their accommodation. To Mr. Panizzi their best thanks are most justly due.
enable each part to be sold separately, which should be done at the lowest price which will cover the expenses of the publication.
“13. That it is expedient that every exertion should be made to complete, within the shortest time consistent with the due execution of the work, full and accurate catalogues of all the collections in the Museum, with a view to print and publish such portions of them as would hold out expectations of even a partial sale."
For the improvement of the SYNOPSIS, a committee of officers was formed in 1836, in conformity with whose report, and that of Sir Henry Ellis, a much improved edition has since been printed, and sold at one shilling. But it has not yet been divided into parts.
On the important subject of CATALOGUES (including that sine qua non, a good classed index to the printed books,) it may be mentioned that considerable progress has been made; notwithstanding that the establishment is in this respect very far indeed from being adequate to the work before it, especially in the department of printed books. Catalogues of the Burney MSS. and of the Syriac and Carshunic MSS. have been completely printed, and a catalogue of the Greek papyri partially printed. In the printed book department a new transcript of the interleaved catalogue of the old library has been completed in forty-eight volumes folio, and placed in the reading-room. But, from the large number of articles still entirely uncatalogued, an increase of the establishment appears to be indispensable.
It is earnestly to be hoped that the preparation of mere inventories will not have preference over that of catalogues for the public, in all respects so much more important. And it may also be suggested that for the same reasons which induced the select committee to recommend the reduction of the price of the Synopsis, the catalogues (of whatever kind) should be published at lower prices than heretofore.
That portion of the descriptive catalogue of the
Ancient Marbles, which is already published,* costs twenty pounds and fifteen shillings; a catalogue of the Greek coins (up to 1814) costs four guineas; a catalogue of a very small portion of the printed books (up to 1819) costs the same sum; and the catalogue of the Royal Library (printed by Bulmer, in 5 vols. folio,) is not sold at all, though there appears to be a stock of it on hand. The stock on hand of the other publications is very large.
OF CASTS FROM THE ANCIENT MARBLES, &c. “ 15. That it be recommended to the trustees to take into con. Casts from sideration the best means of giving to the public a facility of ob- marbles. taining casts from the statues, bronzes, and coins, under competent superintendence, and at as low a price as possible." Moulds have been completed of the figures of the Progress
made : see pediments of the Pantheon, of its metopes, and of al
return of most all the frieze ; and measures are in progress for August,
1836. making moulds of other marbles and of bronze. The dispersion of casts from these moulds will do much towards the cultivation of the public taste.
The committee further resolved :
16. That they “ are well aware that many of the alterations they have suggested cannot be carried into effect, except by increased liberality on the purt of parliament, both with respect to the establishment of the Museum, and also, to a much greater extent, for the augmentation of the collections in the different departments: but they confidently rely on the readiness of the representatives of the people to make full and ample provision for the improvement of an establishment which already enjoys a high reputation in the world of science, and is an object of daily increasing interest to the people of this country.”
Namely, Nos. 1 to 7, 4to, figured in outline.
The greatly “increased liberality of parliament” is Parliament indeed indispensable to any adequate improvement of the for increased libera Museum, whether in the extent of its collections, or, lity.
which is of still greater importance, in the fulness and sufficiency of the means by which these collections are applied to the onward progress of civilization.
In taking a general review of the course of that enquiry, the more immediate results of which we have just seen, we are impressed with the same want of any systematic plan as to what the Museum should become, which we have already observed in the case of the National Gallery of pictures, with the additional disadvantage that in the case of the Museum, the want of any definition of its aims is the more felt, on account of the very
multi. farious nature of the objects, which, in course of time, it has been allowed to embrace.
Were the establishment of the British Museum to be constructed de novo, few, acquainted with its actual working hitherto, would recommend the combination, within one building and under one management, of collections so diversified, as are libraries of MSS. and printed books, antiquities of every kind, drawings, and prints, and collections in all the various branches of natural history. Whether under such new arrangement it would be desirable to unite even the collections of literature (strictly speaking) with those of antiquities and art, is perhaps doubtful; but it is quite certain that it would not be desirable to unite such collections with those of natural history.
No collection of printed books, worthy to rank as the first public library of Great Britain, can be comprised at the present time within a less number of volumes than 600,000, and this number will increase yearly. No collection of antiquities, however rich in original works, can be considered complete, whether viewed in relation to the