Grant Museum of Zoology
020 3108 2052
Open daily from Mon - Sat 1- 5pm; closed Christmas/Easter period.www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/zoology
Part of the University College London (UCL), the Grant Museum of Zoology is one of the only remaining institutions of its kind in London. Founded in 1828 for teaching purposes, the Museum holds around 67,000 species, covering the entire animal kingdom and packed full of display cases of skeletons, taxidermy specimens and bodies preserved in fluid - somewhat reminiscent of a certain Mr. Damien Hirst’s creations, in fact…
Some of the grisly displays are interactive, with iPads attached to the cases for greater explorations into these morbidly fascinating worlds. Get up close and personal with, for example, bisected animal heads created by Sir Victor Negus. Seeming perfectly ordinary from one angle, you only need to turn to the other side to reveal the fascinatingly well preserved brain within. Further along, the skeleton of an anaconda is magnificently wrapped around a tree branch in sculpturesque fashion, pieces of shark vertebrae sit alongside glass models of jellyfish, sea anemones, gastropods, sea cucumbers and cephalopods - all becoming exquisite art works in their own right. It’s not all learning and lecturing though - the curators in charge of designing the layout and presentation have had their own creative fun in the process, arranging a trio of Hawksbill turtles on a wall in the formation of ceramic flying ducks, for example. The research and continued discoveries are showcased marvellously throughout, and you can easily allow for a bit longer than an hour to croon and gasp over the oddities and beauties that you might otherwise never have such a close encounter with. When will you next come nose-to-nose with the extinct Dodo or giant woolly Mammoth? The Tasmanian Tiger ad Quagga are almost certainly off your bucket-safari list of animal boxes to tick, so seize the opportunity to see them in this precious space.