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Features of The Grant Museum of Zoology

Part of University College London and established by Robert Edmond Grant in 1828 as a teaching collection of zoological specimens and material for dissection, the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy is a natural history museum containing around 67,000 zoological specimens. Grant gave his own collection to the museum on his death and the collection was further enhanced by Edwin Ray Lankes in 1875. The museum’s lecturer curators included W. F. R. Weldon (1860-1906), Edward Alfred Minchin, J. P. Hill and D. M. S. Watson. However, after 1948, professional curators were put in charge of the museum.

Of the 67,000 specimens in the museum, there are several rare ones, many of which have only recently been discovered in storage. Moreover, there are a number of former university collections in the museum that include specimens from Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London. Even material from London Zoo and from other London hospital comparative anatomy collections also forms part of the collection.

The museum was previously located at the Darwin Building on the UCL campus but in 2011 it was shifted to new quarters in the Thomas Lewis Room in the Rockefeller Building which was the UCL Medical School Library at one time.  Covering the entire animal kingdom and having many rare and extinct specimens, the Grant Museum still has the feel of an avid Victorian collector with a collection of skeletons, specimens in fluid and stuffed animals. It is a small museum basically in one tightly packed room, where even the most enthusiastic visitor might not find much to see and it won’t take up much more than an hour or so of your day, but for anyone who is interested in zoology or the history of scientific study, it is well worth visiting and having a look. However, even the most enthusiastic visitor might not find much to see after a couple of hours although most of its specimens are rare or extremely rare.

London is now the most visited city in the world as tourists and business travellers find it an ideal destination and for both, the city offers many hotels that provide comfortable accommodation and close proximity to most places of interest. One such convenient place to stay is The Piccadilly London West End Hotel that offers luxurious rooms with best facilities and personalised services while being located in the heart of London close to the culture centres in West End and other attractions.

As a result of the small size of the museum, the specimens have been crammed in every available space. The specimens have been cleverly and innovatively arranged in the cabinets. Even the open spaces that are usually left by architects and designers have been used to cram the specimens. Some cabinets contain a giant snake coiled around a branch with the skull of the snake is far off the right, positioned among the other reptile specimens.

Visitors to London who wish to stay in the midst of all the attractions of the city and close to Hyde Park, will find it convenient to stay at London Hotels near Hyde Park that are available in different categories so that people with different budgets can find a suitable place to stay.

Along with all the other free museums in London, the Grant Museum of Zoology is also worth a visit as it offers 67,000 specimens and is the only remaining university zoological museum in London. Part of the UCL Complex on Gower Street, near Euston Station, the museum opens only during the afternoons, Monday to Saturday. If you are going towards Welcome Collection Museum, you will come across this zoology museum.

While visiting this museum, you will feel that you have gone back to your university days especially if you have studied Zoology in an old school campus that has dusty shelves and wood that smells of polish. You will get a familiar feel and even your kids will like it although many people find it to be freaky. This museum is best for people who are not bothered by animal skeletons or dissections but for those who find it squeamish, it would be best to avoid visiting such a museum.

The Grant Museum was founded by Robert Grant who was the first professor of Zoology in England and who had started gathering specimens in the 1800s to create a teaching collection for university students. His work was exemplary as nothing similar was available during those days. The collection’s main features include the Thylacine skeleton and dissection which is a dog-like carnivore, that is also called the Tasmanian Tiger, that had become extinct in the 1930s. Forming part of Robert Grant’s original collection, these specimens provide the nearest that anyone can get. The collection also has a specimen which is a jar of moles that has become extremely famous, to the extent that it has its own Twitter account, although it is not all that weird. Glass jars are usually used to store and preserve specimens for dissection and study. Kids enjoy drawing some of the specimens during the visit and the museum provides art materials for the same on a big central table. Some great sketches of snake jawbones and elephant hearts have been produced by them

Many people who have stayed in and around London for a long time may not have visited this museum that was founded by Robert Grant, the influential Professor of Comparative Anatomy in UCL. The collections in the museum also include specimens that were owned and used by Thomas Huxley. The museum was previously located in UCL’s Darwin Building but recently it has been relocated to the Rockefeller Building on the corner of University and Gower Street which is near the main UCL quadrangle. The museum has no entry fee but visitors can leave a small donation if they like.

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