As museums go, the Grant is something of a tiddler. Ten paces and you’ve walked the length of it. Yet there’s more zoological stuff on show here than in the Natural History Museum. Every cranny is filled with stuffed, bottled, dessicated or skeletonized creatures, as though Gunther von Hagens had infiltrated Noah’s Ark.
“What’s your favourite animal?” asks Jack Ashby, head of learning and access at UCL, who maintain the museum. “Pangolin,” we quickly retort in our smartass way. Turns out they’ve got two pangolins. And a dugong. And a thylacine. Even a qugga skeleton. These animals might be too obscure for our spellchecker, but not for the Grant Museum. You name it, they’ve got it. Or at least its remains.
The Grant Museum brings together the collections of Victorian zoologists Robert Grant and Thomas Henry Huxley, along with more recent specimens. You won’t find any gaudy interactive displays here. Some of the exhibits are even housed in a cabinet from the 1851 Great Exhibition. This is proper old-school stuff, and all the more charming for it.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of the treasures of the museum. You should also check out their events calendar and get along to an evening event, where you can often browse the curiosities over a glass of wine.
The Grant Museum is open every week day between 1pm and 5pm. You can find it on UCL’s main campus, with an entrance on Malet Place.