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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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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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