Title:   The Naturalist
Author:   Atkins Brendan
Publisher:   UNSW Press NewSouth
Binding:  
Edition:  
APN:   9781742237756 or ISBN(1742237754)
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For lovers of natural history, this is the first book to explore Allan Riverstone McCullochs scientific genius, artistic talents and his crucial role in the development of the Australian Museum.

Allan Riverstone McCulloch (1885–1925) was a leading scientist and talented illustrator, the Australian Museums most senior curator and its star exhibition designer. Yet history has ignored his many contributions.

A free spirit and an expert on Australias fish species, McCulloch was happiest on field trips collecting specimens on the Great Barrier Reef, Lord Howe Island and beyond. He escaped office politics at the museum to accompany cinematographer Frank Hurley on an expedition to tropical Papua in 1922, but controversy erupted when officials accused them of stealing secret, sacred artefacts for the museum's collection. The trip also left McCulloch with dysentery and malaria, and his mental health declined.

In The Naturalist, Brendan Atkins explores McCullochs scientific genius and artistic talents, and his crucial role in the development of the Australian Museum. Its a fascinating and unflinching look at the remarkable life of a brilliant yet troubled Australian.

An artist, a pioneering biologist, and someone who helped make our cherished Australian Museum one of the greatest in the world. At last, his enthralling story is being told. – Robyn Williams

Brendan Atkins book is a labour of love, a meticulously researched account of the life of Allan McCulloch, a senior and controversial figure at Sydneys Australian Museum and one of the worlds leading ichthyologists or fish biologists. It chronicles his field work adventures across the Pacific and informs us about a myriad of topics along the way, from taxidermy and dioramas to the ongoing problem of museums and their often-plundered objects. McCulloch led a troubled life, something this book describes with honesty and insight. He was also an accomplished artist, studying under Julian Ashton; the remarkable sketches and paintings of species reproduced here indicate his complete dedication to his craft. – Ken Gelder is co-author of The Colonial Kangaroo Hunt (2020) and a Professor of English at the University of Melbourne

'A fascinating biography of a fascinating man; one who was a naturalist, adventurer, artist, and a genius who found his greatest struggle was to deal with his own demons.' – Louis Nowra

'A wonderful biography that takes us into the intricate and astonishing world of the natural history museum 100 years ago. Brendan Atkins recovers an important curator, the enigmatic and talented Allan McCulloch, with insight, humour and sensitivity. Along the way, he teases out distinctions between stealing and collecting, guilt and hubris, despair and genius.' – Cathy Perkins, author of The Shelf Life of Zora Cross

This fascinating story of a talented naturalist and his unravelling is also a portrait of the colonial madness of museums and collecting. – Delia Falconer