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The Great Grant Knit-a-Thon

SiobhanPipa5 June 2015

I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit. Unfortunately a lack of hand-eye coordination and a short attention span mean that it’s a skill I’ve never quite mastered. I also really like quirky museums. So naturally the Grant Knit-a-Thon, organised by the UCL Grant Museum of Zoology as part of this year’s UCL Festival of the Arts, seemed like the perfect event to me.

Knitted armadillo on display at Grant Museum  (C) Grant Museum

Knitted armadillo on display at Grant Museum
(C) Grant Museum

Teaming up with East London yarning collective, Prick Your Finger, the Grant Museum offered novices and experts alike a day of knitting, crocheting and stitching – all whilst giving us the chance to explore the museum’s current exhibition ‘Strange Creatures: The art of unknown animals’.

The knit-a-thon was inspired by one of the pieces currently on display in ‘Strange Creatures’ – Ruth Marshall’s knitted Tasmanian Tiger skin. The knitted pelt was chosen for inclusion in the exhibition by Sarah Wade (UCL History of Art), co-curator of ‘Strange Creatures’.

As part of the knit-a-thon activities, Sarah gave a fascinating talk on how natural history museums use contemporary art and craft to engage with visitors.

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Grant Museum Show’n’Tell: Soda Lakes

IrrumAli29 October 2014

Cichlid fish. Image courtesy of  Dean Veall and Antonia Ford

Cichlid fish. Image courtesy of
Dean Veall and Antonia Ford

The Grant Museum of Zoology is just one of UCL’s many interesting and engaging museums, conveniently located almost directly opposite the Quad, and so, perfect for a fly-by lunchtime visit.

The museum hosts plenty of events throughout the year including its exciting Show’n’Tell series. I took the opportunity to go along to an edition and hosted on Wednesday 22 October.

Home to no less than 68,000 fascinating objects, the museum’s collection covers everything from the Tasmanian tiger and Dodo to brain matter and skeletons from species right across the animal kingdom. I heard from a UCL researcher who was asked to showcase just one object from the vast options on offer and tasked with sharing all they know about it to a keen and inquisitive audience.

It was certainly a unique experience to be surrounded by thousands of specimens as the talk took place at the heart of the museum among the many exhibitions. The event began with a short welcome and introduction to the museum, including an overview of its 170-year history, by our host for the hour, Dean Veall (Grant Museum, Learning and Access Officer) who then introduced PhD student Antonia Ford (UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment).

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It Came From The Stores at the Grant Museum

JamesHeather23 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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Grant Museum wins Museums and Heritage Award for Excellence

newseditor17 May 2012

Last night a contingent from UCL including colleagues from Museums and Public Engagement, UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and Heritage Without Borders headed down to the illustrious premises of 8 Northumberland for the 10th Anniversary Museums and Heritage Awards.

In total three UCL projects had been shortlisted; the move of the Grant Museum for Project on A Limited Budget, the Grant Museum’s QRator project for Innovations and Heritage Without Borders for The International Award. Did we bring home the silver (glass)? Well from the title of this post you can gather we did but you’ll have to hit the jump to find out more..

We won the Innovations award for QRator: Visitor Participation Through Social Interpretation. Here’s what the award looks like, complete with our grubby finger prints from last night. Some of them may even be comedienne and broadcaster Sue Perkins’ who presented the award.

There’s a whole raft of people who need thanking and who were instrumental in the QRator project. In no order they are: Andrew Hudson-Smith and the original team behind Tales of Things from UCL Centre for Advance Spatial Analysis, Steven Gray from CASA who developed the QRator app and has been our 24/7 helpdesk ever since, Claire Ross from UCL Digital Humanities who worked with me originally in trialling QR codes in the Grant Museum and who has been instrumental in researching, supporting and spreading QRator, Melissa Terras and Claire Warwick also from Digital Humanities who have given continuous feedback on the project as well as share the burden of the numerous published papers on the project, Susannah Chan from UCL Museums and Public Engagement for inventing the mounts for the iPads, Grant Museum Manager Jack Ashby who writes the content and designs the displays for QRator, Grant Museum colleagues Emma-Louise Nicholls and Simon Jackson who moderate the content day in and day out, UCL Public Engagement Unit for their funding and support of the project, Sally MacDonald Director of UCL Museums and Public Engagement who has been a huge driving force behind the project and key to realising it and of course the visitors of the Grant Museum who interact with QRator and interpret the Grant collections. Without them this project would literally be nothing.

Read more of Mark Carnall’s entry on the UCL Museums & Collections Blog