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It Came From The Stores at the Grant Museum

James M Heather23 July 2012

The summer ‘Silly Season’ at the Grant Museum is coming to an end, and to send it off in style paleobiologist and curator Mark Carnall gave a talk on some of the museum’s hidden treasures.

Not for the faint hearted, It Came From The Stores revealed some of the weird and wonderful specimens that for one reason or another don’t make it out to the display cases.

The Grant Museum is probably my favourite of the UCL museums. It’s a wonderful cosy natural history museum, which makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to some Victorian-era collection, where bottled animals and wired skeletons peer out of the display cases at you.

There’s a very good reason for this impression, as the core collection of the museum was gathered in the early 1800s by the museum’s namesake, Robert Edmond Grant (one of Charles Darwin’s influential mentors), to serve as a teaching collection for the university.

In the intervening centuries, various other scholars, curators and collectors have made their own additions. However, not all of these samples are out on display; at the Grant Museum only five per cent of the material they own is on show.

This may seem surprising to those of us who aren’t in the museum trade, but apparently this is a relatively high number, with larger national museums displaying a fraction of a percent!

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The Valley of Gwangi (1969) on the Big Screen

Katherine Aitchison28 June 2012

It started with a tiny horse. The tiniest horse you’ve never seen. Probably because it died out 50 billion years ago and was actually a living fossil which pointed the way to a valley full of bloodthirsty dinosaurs ready to break out into the real world at the first sign of human intervention.

No, this wasn’t the latest breakthrough in genetic engineering; it was in fact the penultimate event in the Grant Museum’s Silly Season and the latest film to be given the “on the Big Screen” treatment.

Introduced by Dr Joe Cain (UCL Science and Technology Studies), The Valley of Gwangi is a moralistic tale of what happens when greed gets the better of us and makes us deaf to the warnings of slightly crazy, blind gypsy ladies and sends us off looking for things which shouldn’t exist. Think Jurassic Park with cowboys.

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