The Secret Museum: Some Treasures Are Too Precious To Display

Molly Oldfield. Firefly Books (Firefly, North American dist.), $35 (352p) ISBN 978-1-77085-257-0
A treasure in itself, Oldfield's book entices readers to discover a wide variety of little-known and rarely seen artifacts that lie hidden away in vaults, warehouses and archives in zoological, anthropological, scientific, historic, literary and artistic museums around the world. In her travels, she connects with experts who provide the context needed to make the treasures come alive. In her very readable, enthusiastic, and often amusing style, Oldfield describes each discovery in a way that takes it from a formal introduction to an intimate encounter. Whether it is a school exercise book that belonged to a boy king from Assyria, written in cuniform on a clay tablet, about 660 B.C; Queen Elizabeth I's slap-soled shoes; the Tell Halaf sculptures reconstructed like a 3D jigsaw puzzle from 27,000 broken pieces; Alfred Nobel's will; Anne Frank's friendship book; the Kon-Tiki Expedition logbook, or a tutu worn by ballerina Margot Fonteyn in 1946, Oldfield introduces readers to objects few people outside of researchers and curators will ever see. Because of security risks, fragility, size, pricelessness or the need for a controlled environment, unless specifically ferreted out, these treasures will remain unknowns. Oldfield's collection is an absolute must for anyone with a nose for secrets and treasures. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/11/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
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