We are delighted to host a virtual talk on Wednesday, March 2nd at 4.30 p.m. with acclaimed author Kirk Wallace Johnson, who will speak on the subject of his celebrated book The Feather Thief.
In June 2009, a young American scaled the walls of the British Museum of Natural History, broke out a window, climbed inside, and stole a million dollars’ worth of dead birds - scientific specimens preserved over the centuries by a chain of curators who recognized that these birds held answers to questions that scientists hadn’t even considered. He stripped them of their tags (bearing information crucial to research), and then hacked them to bits with a scalpel, filling Ziploc bags with thousands of iridescent, glimmering feathers, which he sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cultish community of Victorian salmon fly-tiers. In The Feather Thief, Johnson descends into this ‘feather underground,’ tracking down the missing birds across the world in a madcap quest for some kind of justice.
This American Life produced a special on the book with our guest; you may want to listen to it here.
We are indebted to Dr. Mark Adams, Senior Curator of the Bird Group at the Tring Museum, for providing this paper on the subject of the Tring heist and other notable thefts.
Register in advance for this webinar: