When Max Barclay wrote to the head of the beetle collection at the Natural History Museum asking for work, little did he know that years laternot only would he work with the largest, oldest and most important beetle collection in the world, but that he would manage it!
Beetles are not just unimportant creepy crawlies - one in every five living organisms is a beetle. The Natural History Museum's collection includes specimens collected by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, as well as specimens dating back to Captain Cook’s ‘Endeavour’ voyages. But far from being an outdated archive, scientists and collectors are constantly adding to its 22,000 drawers of specimens.
Max and his team strive to make this priceless resource as accessible as possible, and it is consulted by several hundred people a year. It is not only entomologists (insect specialists) who visit, but also climatologists, ecologists, biomimetics specialists and artists seeking inspiration from nature.
Max has been on field trips to remote tropical rainforests and mountain ranges in many countries and has discovered a wealth of new species, 50 of which have been named in his honour by scientists around the world.