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This lavishly illustrated volume is the first systematic general work to do justice to the fruits of recent scholarship in the history of natural history. Public interest in this lively field has been stimulated by environmental concerns and through links with the histories of art, collecting and gardening. Twenty-four specially commissioned essays cover the period from the sixteenth century, when the first institutions of natural history were created, to its late nineteenth-century transformation by practitioners of the new biological sciences. An introduction discusses novel approaches that have made this a major focus for research in cultural history. The essays, which include suggestions for further reading, offer a coherent and accessible overview of a fascinating subject. An epilogue highlights the relevance of this wide-ranging survey for current debates on museum practice, the display of ecological diversity, and concerns about the environment.