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Monday, October 8, 2012

Wallace and the Sarawak Museum

KUCHING: Who is Alfred Russel Wallace? What is his relationship to the Sarawak Museum? Why are his works important to us and what can we learn from him?

These are some of the questions which will be discussed and explored at an upcoming public talk and tour, featuring writer and ardent Wallace researcher, Paul Spencer Sochaczewski.

Malaysian Nature Society, Kuching Branch (MNSKB) and Friends of the Sarawak Museums (FOSM) are organising the talk and tour highlighting the connection between Wallace and the museum.

The one hour talk, titled “The Hero’s Journey of Alfred Russel Wallace in Southeast Asia”, will be held at the Bongkissam Room of the museum’s Dewan Tun Abdul Razak building on 20th Oct at 2.30pm. After the talk, there will be a 40-minute tour of the Old Building of the Sarawak Museum lead by Louise Macul from FOSM. Admission to the talk and tour is free.

After the talk and tour, there will be a “Secret Rooms” tour lasting 40 minutes. This exclusive tour, arranged with the permission of the Museum, will take you into the rooms of the Museum that are not open to public. You will be shown the archives and 100-year old collections of the Museum.

You will have to register beforehand for this “Secret Rooms” access, and a fee of RM30 per person will be charged. MNS members will pay RM25. This tour is limited to 25 people on a first-come-first-served basis.

Wallace spent eight years in the mid-19th century exploring the Malay Archipelago, spending some 18 months in Sarawak. He is perhaps best known as the co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection.

Wallace was a prolific collector of “natural productions,” classifying and preserving some 125,000 specimens while in Asia.

Less-widely known are his writings on often controversial themes: the role of women in building a strong society, the dignity and self-governance of “savage” societies, mysticism, the good and bad effects of colonialism, and environmental destruction.

The speaker, Sochaczewski, has a background in journalism and nature conservation. He was head of creative services and director of the Faith and Environment Program at WWF International.

The speaker has written more than 600 articles for leading international publications. He co-authored two books with Jeffrey McNeely: Soul of the Tiger: People and Nature in Southeast Asia and Eco-Bluff Your Way to Instant Environmental Credibility.

Redheads, his comic conservation novel set in Borneo, is about tribal uprisings, fraudulent scientists, corrupt government officials and schizophrenic orangutans.

The Sultan and the Mermaid Queen is a collection of some 70 articles he’s written over the years.

His latest book, which will be launched on 5th November 2012 at the Singapore Writers Festival, is An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles, which follows the trail of Victorian-era naturalist and philosopher Alfred Russel Wallace in Southeast Asia.

For more information and registration for the talk and “Secret Rooms” tour contact Friends of Sarawak Museums - Louise Macul at 012-8550588 or email to fosmuseum@gmail.com

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