Ride a tortoise like Walter!

Walter Rothschild riding a tortoise.
Walter Rothschild riding a tortoise.
  • Refurbished museum room dedicated to Lord Walter Rothschild will reopen on April 15
  • Lord Rothschild was given a museum by his father on his 21st birthday
  • He formed the largest zoological collection ever amassed by a private individual

A special room dedicated to the man behind Tring’s Natural History Museum will reopen to the public this month.

Based inside the Akeman Street museum, the Rothschild Room has undergone a refurbishment and will showcase the key stories and specimens from the life and collection of founder Lord Walter Rothschild.

An interactive map features the daring explorations of Lord Rothchild’s specimen collectors, visitors can flip through digital photo albums featuring the collector, his family and his menagerie of live animals.

There are also mounted examples of some of his favourite birds and a life size replica means visitors can recreate one of the most well-known images of the museum owner riding a giant tortoise - a perfect selfie moment.

The revitalised room, which is designed to illustrate how Lord Rothchild’s interest in natural history, his foresight and generosity, preserved an astonishing collection for the nation, will open on April 14.

It is a space where the legacy of Lord Rothschild, who was given the museum by his father on his 21st birthday, is celebrated.

The eccentric character was famous for keeping zebras, a tame wolf, rheas, kangaroos, kiwis, cassowaries and giant tortoises in Tring Park and he even drove a team of six zebras into the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

At its largest, his collection included 300,000 bird skins, 200,000 birds’ eggs, 2,250,000 butterflies, and 30,000 beetles, as well as thousands of specimens of mammals, reptiles, and fishes. They formed the largest zoological collection ever amassed by a private individual.

The Rothschild Room refurbishment has been made possible through a grant from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund.