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  • Help us build and clean a whale skeleton

    By Jack Ashby, on 3 July 2017

    Some of the whale's backbone, in one of our stores.

    Some of the whale’s backbone, in one of our stores.

    This weekend we will be attempting to rebuild our largest specimen – a northern bottle-nosed whale skeleton. And we would like you to help us do it.

    The specimen’s story begins in 1860 when it was originally collected in Somerset, when an expedition set off across the Bristol Channel in pursuit of “two great fish” (as they were described by the local newspaper – whales are, of course, mammals) – one of which was brought back to land. After a period “on tour” as a whole carcass, the prepared skeleton was displayed hanging from the ceiling of the Weston Super-Mare Museum. It eventually came to the Grant Museum in 1948, but it had been dismantled into its separate bones. (Its full, remarkable story, including the use of entirely inappropriate whale-murdering equipment, misguided entrepreneurship, rancid carcasses, financial ruin, and the unusual tasks the wife of a 19th century curator might find herself doing, can be read in a previous post).

    At over eight metres long in life, different parts of the skeleton have been stored in different cupboards and cabinets across the Museum and its storerooms. Read the rest of this entry »

    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month June 2017

    By Mark Carnall, on 30 June 2017

    It’s the end of June, which can mean one thing and one thing only. It’s time for another underwhelming fossil fish of the month brought to you from the Grant Museum of Zoology. I know, I know it seems like only the day before yesterday since we featured the last totally underwhelming fish fossil but time waits for no fish so we’re back once again. with the renegade master.

    For the uninitiated there’s still time to back out. This blog series aims to look at fossil fish from the Grant Museum of Zoology and ask, why? Why did someone collect this? Why is it still in a museum? Who cares about this stuff and most importantly, is reading this a good use of my time?

    No! No it is not dear reader but contemplating the dry and uninteresting world of a fossiliferous fish might just distract you enough from the knowledge that you and everyone you know is made of meat or offer some comfort to the inevitable fact that the heat death of the Universe will render everything we and descendent generations do utterly pointless.

    I’ve stalled as much as I can, I’m afraid, it’s now time for this month’s underwhelming fossil fish to be unveiled. This is your last chance to get back to contemplating your inherently meaty nature. Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 298: The Preserved Chimpanzee Hand

    By Rowan J J Tinker, on 30 June 2017

    Preserved chimpanzee manus (hand). LDUCZ-Z1146.

    Preserved chimpanzee manus (hand). LDUCZ-Z1146.

    At the Grant Museum of Zoology we house enough material to comprise at least half a chimpanzee, probably even several halves…

    “Half a chimpanzee, philosophically

    Must, ipso facto, half not be

    But half the chimpanzee has got to be

    Vis-a-vis its entity, d’you see?”

    I understand that by re-working Eric Idle’s Eric the Half a Bee song to read ‘chimpanzee’ instead of ‘bee’ most of the rhyming joke is lost, but I digress.

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is…

     

     

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 297: the Giraffe Heart

    By Will J Richard, on 23 June 2017

    Hello e-folks! Will Richard here bringing you another specimen of the week. A tall story with a lot of heart. That’s right folks it’s the…

    Wild giraffes in Niger

    Wild giraffes in Niger. Image by Clémence Delmas via Wikimedia Commons; CC BY 3.0

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Focus on Slade Women Artists 2017 – 2018

    By Martine Rouleau, on 19 June 2017

     

    Paula Rego, Under Milkwood

    Paula Rego, Under Milkwood, 1954, Oil on canvas,
    UCL Art Museum 5581. © The Artist.
    First Prize Equal for Summer
    Composition, 1954. All UCL Art
    Museum’s paintings can be viewed online at Art UK

    Spotlight on the Slade Collections is a research project supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, aimed at increasing access to UCL Art Museum’s Slade Collections through research, cataloguing, digitisation, collaboration and public engagement. Emerging out of this project for 2017 – 2018, UCL Art Museum will focus its research and events programming on a key component of the collection: Slade Women Artists.

    Approximately 45% of works in UCL Art Museum’s collection are by women artists. Typically, permanent collections in Europe and the US contain between 3-5% of works by women. For their recent exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, art activists the Guerrilla Girls sent questionnaires to 383 European museums and collections to ascertain the gender and nationality balance within their collections. Of the 101 institutions that responded, only 2 collections contained 40% or more works by women.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 296: Hawksbill turtle taxidermy

    By Hannah Cornish, on 16 June 2017

    Specimen of the week this week is big, very shiny and in need of some TLC. Today we bring you the…

    LDUCZ-X1580 hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata

    LDUCZ-X1580 hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Make Taxidermy Great Again! We launch our new conservation project

    By Jack Ashby, on 12 June 2017

    Taxidermy Elephant shrew in need of treatment. LDUCZ-Z2789

    Taxidermy elephant shrew in need of treatment.

    This week the Grant Museum is launching a project to conserve our important collection of historic taxidermy, which involves taking these much-loved specimens off display to be treated. In their place, we will be filling the gaps with toy stuffed animals to raise awareness of the project.

    The specimens have been on display for over a century, and in that time some of them have begun to split and crack, their filling may be poking out or they are just plain dirty. They require expert museum conservators to repair them, ensuring that they will survive for the long-term future. That is the key aim of this project: Fluff It Up: Make Taxidermy Great Again. Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 295: Do we fix the googly-eyed owl?

    By Jack Ashby, on 9 June 2017

    You do not have to be an expert zoologist to know that this is not what an owl looks like.

    Next week we launch a major conservation project called Fluff It Up: Make Taxidermy Great Again, to repair and restore our historic taxidermy collection (check back on the blog on Monday for more about that). This will involve the expert conservation of specimens that have become damaged over their decades or centuries on display. In planning this project, we were faced with the decision of whether to “correct” the absurd but amusing eyes on this owl…

    Long eared owl. Should we replace his eyes? LDUCZ-Y1604

    Long eared owl. Should we replace his eyes? LDUCZ-Y1604

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 294: The Swift

    By Dean W Veall, on 2 June 2017

    Hello Specimen of the Week fans, Dean Veall here. This week I’ve chosen a specimen I have often got confused by at this time of the year.  This week’s Specimen of the Week is…

    Taxidermy swift LDUCZ-Y1552

    Taxidermy swift LDUCZ-Y1552

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month May 2017

    By Mark Carnall, on 31 May 2017

    GOOD NEWS ALERT. Thanks to the transfer of some fossil material from UCL Geology Collections to the Grant Museum of Zoology, the Museum is now definitively the unique home of underwhelming fossil fish on the UCL campusTM. This transfer will keep the series going for a further 40 years on top of the next 70 years of underwhelming fossil fish of the month until the series is forced to examine an fossil fish that may be of interest.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the monthly format, it works in exactly the same way as reality TV talent contest shows like the X Factor does. Except instead of people, there are only fossil fish and instead of searching for outstanding entertainment talent to slowly homogenise week on week into formulaic flash-in-the-pan popular music success we’re searching for indistinguishing blandness. Also, there aren’t judges or voting or live shows or broken dreams or insufferable presenters or music or six chair challenges or sad stories about dead grannies or guest appearances by pop stars who have an album or a tour to promote. Other than that, it is exactly the same.

    This month to commemorate the influx of new old material into the museum, our talent scouts have picked out one of the new kids. Let me underwhelm you with it. Voting is now closed. Read the rest of this entry »