Samuel Stutchbury was the curator of the Bristol Institution during its most exciting period, the 1830s. As the main officer of a serious scientific research centre run by committed amateurs, he presided over the visit of the British Association in 1836, the unwrapping of Egyptian mummies for research, the discovery of pliosaur and ichthyosaur fossils and the identification of a newly discovered species, the gorilla. The Institution later became Bristol Museum.

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