Exhibition Review: The Micrarium @ Grant Museum

The Grant Museum is one of London’s lesser known treasures. It’s a small museum full of biological curiosities such as a rare skeleton of a quagga (an extinct relative of the zebra) to a jarful of moles or a tiger foetus. All these exhibits are crowded into a small space and it has a distinctly Victorian feel to it.

Its latest addition is the Micrarium – a small shrine dedicated to the miniscule organisms that we share the planet with but are often neglected compared to larger animals. It’s a compact three sided space with only enough room for one person, but it’s packed with slides from floor to ceiling. They contain varied specimens from a sawfly to a rat ovary, but are visible with the naked eye.

They are all hand labelled, making visitors feel like they’ve stumbled into the laboratory of an entomologist (someone who studies insects). In keeping with this theme some slides are indecipherable for non-experts, simply stating ‘Hemipteran’ or including the odd question mark as they’re not sure what’s been found.

In any other museum this would seem a strange addition but at the Grant Museum it fits in perfectly with their other quirky exhibits. It also draws attention to the world of tiny creatures, which are often ignored but play a vital part in nearly all ecosystems.

The Micrarium: A Place for Tiny Things is the latest addition to the Grant Museum of Zoology, Rockefeller Building, University College London, 21 University Street, WC1E 6DE. Admission is free.

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