One of London's most charming small museums, the Grant Museum of Zoology, reopens in early February, after being closed for almost a year.
Home to skeletons, taxidermy and preserved animal remains — and various other zoological specimens — it closed in March 2023 for an 'improvement programme', to refocus its exhibits on the climate crisis. The reworked displays will tell the story of biodiversity loss around the world, and the human impact on diversity in the natural world.
Within its collections, the Grant Museum has several species which no longer exist in the natural world. Its quagga skeleton — a species of South African zebra which went extinct in the 19th century — is one of only seven known skeletons, making it the world's rarest skeleton. The museum also houses a collection of dodo bones, the bird being the first species known to have been made extinct by human action.
The museum was originally due to reopen in autumn 2023, but that date was pushed back, and we now know it'll reopen on Tuesday 6 February. We're promised it'll maintain its "beautifully unique floor-to-ceiling displays and atmospheric charm", with six new showcases and 350 new labels to see — and, according to a response on an Instagram post announcing the comeback, its famous jar of moles will be back too. Phew.
It's not the first time the Grant has had a bit of a shake up. It closed for over a year in 2010-11 for a move to its current premises. In 2015, we went behind the scenes, and stumbled across boxes marked with such labels as 'whale ribs' and 'disarticulated croc'. An infinitely fascinating place.
The Grant Museum of Zoology is open Tuesday-Friday 1pm-5pm and Saturday 11am-5pm, from Tuesday 6 February. Entry remains free, though donations are always welcome.