Account of some Presents recently received from the Smithsonian Institution, and the Museum of Comparative Zoology of Harvard College.
4. “Account of some Presents recently received from the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of Comparative Zoology of Harvard College,” by J. S. Webb.
The author stated that this was the first occasion on which a presentation of this sort had been made to the Society by other than private individuals. He then proceeded to give an interesting account of the origin and progress of the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard College, stating that “the most interesting feature to ourselves of the operations of the former institution is the great system of international exchanges which it has inaugurated, and by which we now profit for the first time. These exchanges are not confined to books, and I hope that some day or other we may be able to court an interchange of museum specimens, which will be of great value to those who pursue the study of Natural History.
“In the foregoing account of the two great institutions, to which we are indebted for these presents, the word ‘dollars’ has been reiterated in a conspicuous manner. I have laid this stress on it purposely, in order to present a forcible contrast to the state of things here. It may be doubted whether this Museum would now be in existence had the New Zealand Exhibition of 1865 not been organised by some enthusiastic spirits amongst us. Virtually, at the end of six years, it still contains nothing more than a part of the collections gathered from various sources for that exhibition. The enthusiasm and the
liberality of this community in the cause of science seems to have expended itself in that year. The notable examples of a very different spirit, some of the overflowings from which have reached us in these welcome presents, will, I hope, not be without their effect upon us. This is not the place to suggest what needs to be done, but I desire emphatically to express my conviction that one of the foremost duties of this Society lies in this direction, and that it is high time that some steps were taken to fulfil it.
“Another point which is worthy of attention in connection with the institutions whose politeness to us we are signalizing, is the energetic system of exchanges which both of them maintain. If the Otago Museum were constantly in the receipt of specimens with which it could afford to part, these institutions, and many others, would gladly exchange with it. These exchanges would not necessarily be confined to Natural History specimens. In exchange for properly prepared series illustrating our products and industries similar illustrations of those of other countries could be obtained. As the humour of the day is to talk much about immigration, and to bewail the slow influx of people from other countries, I may suggest that every such exchange would establish a permanent advertisement of the resources of the colony in some populous locality, which would become an inexpensive and useful emigration agent.”
Some other presentations were announced, and together with scientific periodicals were on the table for the inspection of members.