The Grant Museum of Zoology is one of the oldest natural history collections in England, dating back to 1827. The collection comprises over 68,000 skeletal, taxidermy and wet specimens, covering the whole of the animal kingdom. Many of the species are now endangered or extinct including the Tasmanian tiger or thylacine, the quagga and the dodo. Whilst maintaining the intriguing atmosphere of a densely-packed Victorian collection the new Grant Museum space offers the opportunity to showcase the historic collections, but to treat them in entirely different ways and to position the Museum as a place of experimentation, dialogue and debate. UCL is taking the opportunity to rethink what a university museum can be; a place not simply for a passive experience but for conversation – a cultural laboratory for the meeting of minds.
Through the QRator project the Grant will be experimenting with ways of using a natural history collection as a starting point for questions about science. Alongside displays of stuffed chimpanzees and extinct dodos, iPads will be scattered, asking provocative questions about the ways museums operate, and the role of science in society.
The Grant Museum doesn’t open until the 15th March, in the mean time we want people to join the conversation and ask engage in some Current Questions. The first of these investigates the relationships and conflicts between pets and wildlife. It will be really interesting to interrogate what it means to be interested in animals. The Grant wants to get discussions going on how people relate pets to wild animals represented in Natural history museums.
If you would like to join the conversation you can over on the QRator site. (NB. this is a temporary site, until QRator is fully launched in March)