Jaws & Jars @ The Grant Museum of Zoology

April 28, 2012

London Sights

It might be a little depressing to be in London at the moment with our constant rain, but it does give visitors an excuse to spend more time in one of our wonderfully quirky museums.

Yesterday I visited the Grant Museum of Zoology. The museum was established in 1827 by naturalist Robert Edmond Grant, the world’s first ‘Professor of Zoology’, and today it occupies a large vaulted room just off the University College London campus on Gower St.

The museum is lined floor to ceiling throughout with glass cabinets containing the most bizarre and unusual objects, the vast majority of which are preserved in formaldehyde. There are jars full of sea creatures, a series showing the bisected heads of small mammals (which I suspect might have inspired Damien Hirst) and many other strange things, including a set of glass models created by the Blaschka family in the late 1800s. These objects are incredibly intricate and modern attempts to recreate them with the tools available at that time have failed – an interesting mystery! I’ll also give you a quick tip if you’re squeamish or are particularly fond of small woodland creatures – when you enter don’t look too closely at the first cabinet, because a jar literally stuffed with moles is proudly displayed towards the bottom of the cabinet on the left. In addition to the preserved animals there are also some interesting skulls from larger mammals, some representing sub-species which have now disappeared, including several members of the elephant and tiger families.

The Grant Museum runs regular hands-on events for schools, and also has a set of iPads where visitors can ask questions about the specimens which academics from UCL can see and respond to. You can also help out the museum by sponsoring a specimen, which you can find out about here. I note that many of the more attractive displays have found owners, but there are still a few tapeworms and/or slugs which you could adopt…

Entry to the Grant Museum of Zoology is free of charge, and their opening hours are 1 to 5pm from Monday to Friday. Unfortunately the museum isn’t open at weekends.

About The Londoneer

Pete Stean is a keen blogger, amateur photographer, singer and ham radio enthusiast in his spare time... Google+

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4 Responses to “Jaws & Jars @ The Grant Museum of Zoology”

  1. Angus Moir Says:

    Looks incredible.


  2. William K Wallace Says:

    Looks like it is worth a visit. When I visited the Petrie Museum I planned on popping in here but the place was just closing, which was a pity…
    William K Wallace recently posted..Grosvenor Square Gardens – A Great Escape From Oxford Street


    • The Londoneer Says:

      Well these spots around the UCL campus do keep university hours – it’s not far off Tottenham Court Rd though, and I know you find yourself on that street from time to time, so there’s always an opportunity to pop in!



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    [...] like its sister museum, the Grant Museum of Zoology, the Petrie represents the University’s earliest forays into this area of study. Amelie [...]

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