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  • The Top Ten Grant Museum Blogs of 2016

    By Jack Ashby, on 9 January 2017

    History will most likely look back on 2016 as a reasonably significant year – you don’t need reminding why. It’s probably fair to say that the activities of the Grant Museum will not feature highly in the list of major global events, but nevertheless we like to think we had a positive impact on the lives of our supporters and visitors last year, both physically and digitally.

    Team Grant had plenty to cheer about in 2016: our two exhibitions were based on artistic ways of looking at scientific topics. First was Skullpture, when we invited the Sculpture students from the Slade School of Fine Art to takeover the museum with their responses to our collection and history. Then, with Natural Creativity: Sex and Trickery we displayed a collection of stunning drawings by Clara Lacy depicting the species that are being studied by biologists in the UCL Department of Genetics, Evolution and the Environment: the sexual preferences, sex determination and sexual selection in the animal kingdom.

    In terms of our collections, we reached a giant milestone last year – we finally know where every single specimen stored in the museum space is, possibly for the first time in our 190 year history. We’ve also been focusing our conservation work on our collection of wet specimens, with Project Pickle. We’ve had a really ambitious events programme too, the pinnacle being the dissection of cheetah by a team of five reseachers in front of a huge audience of over 300… It was a busy year.

    As a way of looking back, on Twitter over the past week we’ve been counting down the best of 2016’s blog – the Top Ten most viewed Grant Museum posts of last year*.

    I’ve announced those ranking at 10 to 2 in the charts, and exclusively revealing here that the most popular post of 2016 is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 262: Little spotted kiwi

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 21 October 2016

    Welcome zoology fans, it’s another installation of the Specimen of the Week and this time we have something I like to call the Badger bird. I call it that not because it has black and white stripes on its face (it doesn’t), but because it’s the closest the bird world has managed to get to a myopic, snuffling, nocturnal, earthworm-devouring, somewhat stinky, mammal. That’s right, it’s the

    LDUCZ-Y1575 Apteryx owenii

    LDUCZ-Y1575 Apteryx owenii skeleton

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 256: the pickled pigeon

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 9 September 2016

    Happy Friday everybody! Today I have a slightly gross specimen of the week for you, in the form of this lovely

    LDUCZ-Y1713 Columba livia

    **pickled pigeon**

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 252 – The babirusa skull

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 12 August 2016

    Happy Friday everyone! This week I’ve chosen a specimen of the week that has been used as an icon for the Grant Museum of Zoology and which represents one of the weirder looking critters with which we share the world – a species so strange that it grows its teeth through its face and on the rare occasion, back into its own head. That’s right, it’s the…

    LDUCZ-Z111 Babyrousa babyrussa skull

    LDUCZ-Z111 Babyrousa babyrussa skull

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 247: the pickled dissected monkey head

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 8 July 2016

    Happy Friday, Grant aficionados! Welcome back to the high-point of the week, where Saturday is almost within reach and we get to share a gem from the collection for your delectation.

    This week that particular gem is the…

    LDUCZ-Z445 pickled dissected monkey head

    LDUCZ-Z445 Sapajus sp.

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 241 – White-rumped ocean-runner

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 27 May 2016

    This Friday I have a specimen for you that I picked simply because I like it:

    LDUCZ-Y1540_IMG33 - Oceanodromus_leucorhoa-skeleton

    LDUCZ-Y1540 Oceanodromus leucorhoa skeleton

    This is the skeleton of a white-rumped ocean-runner (a literal translation of the scientific name Oceanodroma leucorhoa), but it’s more commonly known as: (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 235: Alizarin Stained Chicken Chick

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 15 April 2016

    My turn to pick the Specimen of the Week came a bit late for Easter, so instead of an egg I thought I’d go for what comes afterwards…

    Chicken chick LDUCZ-NON3148

    Chicken chick LDUCZ-NON3148

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 229: Fossil Poo

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 4 March 2016

    It’s time for my turn to do the new and streamlined Specimen of the Week – and this time I’m pleased to bring you something on an underwhelming par with certain fossil fish that regularly feature on the blog.

    LDUCZ-X1077 Coprolite

    LDUCZ-X1077 Coprolite

    In fact, it could be argued that this specimen is so underwhelming that it’s crap… literally. That’s right, I bring you… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 223: The Tasmanian wolf

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 18 January 2016

    One of the most interesting things about zoology for me is the way in which skulls are sculpted by evolutionary and environmental forces. A particularly fascinating outcome of such processes is convergent evolution, which occurs when distantly related organisms live in a similar environment and have a similar mode of life, resulting in them looking and often behaving like each other. My favourite example of this phenomenon is shown by my Specimen of the Week…

    LDUCZ-Z90 Thylacine skull [Grant Museum, UCL / Fred Langford-Edwards]

    LDUCZ-Z90 Thylacine skull [Grant Museum, UCL / Fred Langford-Edwards]

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 217: annotated green turtle half-skull

    By Paolo W Viscardi, on 7 December 2015

    This week I’ve picked a specimen to talk about that is being used in comparative zoology practicals at the moment. I chose it because it has been helpfully labelled to show each of the bones which fit together to form the remarkable piece of biological architecture that is the skull. So this week’s Specimen of the Week is…

    LDUCZ-X833 annotated green turtle skull

    LDUCZ-X833 annotated green turtle skull

    (more…)