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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


The ongoing saga at the Grant Museum

By Mark Carnall, on 17 January 2012

If you’re anything like me the most infuriating thing about a delayed or cancelled bus, train or plane is not knowing why said mode of transport was delayed. If my bus was cancelled because a wheel was about to fall off then, hey, I’m happy to wait a bit longer if it means I won’t be getting on a bus that might tip over. But if it’s cancelled because somebody hadn’t realised that four buses were sent out at exactly the same time then, well I’d still be annoyed but less so than just standing in the cold for forty minutes with no explanation. So I’d like to take the opportunity to explain why the Grant Museum still isn’t fully accessible yet.

As you may know we had an extended closure period over Christmas. This was to install glass to the cases around the wall and lighting inside the cases. We’d originally had this planned for the opening in March but due to truly tragic circumstances this didn’t come to pass so we went with PLAN B which was to cover the cases with perspex. This wasn’t an ideal interim situation as it looked a bit unsightly, attracted dust and was inconvenient to get in and out of. Fortunately, our visitors didn’t seemed to mind too much but it was a situation we were keen to improve for access to specimens, security and also for aesthetics. So this is now the second attempt to install glass doors in the museum. It is not an easy space to work with, there are listing considerations and every single alcove in the museum is a slightly different width and height so each door is bespoke to a single alcove. We hate to inconvenience visitors to the museum and planned with all the contractors involved to close for the shortest amount of time possible- hence the prolonged Christmas closure. However, due to circumstances beyond our control the work was delayed by one set of contractors by a week. We’re always looking to turn challenges into opportunities so rather than close the museum for an extra week we opened with everything out on the floor giving visitors the opportunity to see the museum in a slightly different way and as a compromise for not being able to offer the full museum experience.

We then planned to work through the weekend supervising access to get the displays ready and we organised yesterday as a closure day for the Grant Museum team to install all our objects back into the cases. Today was supposed to be our first day with the new cases and lights.

It has not gone to plan. We do have beautiful display cases but they are completely empty still because the shelves are yet to arrive. If you talk to any museum professional involved with exhibitions there are always unforeseen delays, but we’d factored in buffer periods and many contingencies to try to keep the museum open and the specimens safe. We’ve made ourselves available first thing in the morning and worked through to the night to allow the contractors access to try to get the museum back to normal as quickly as possible.

As I said before, we really hate to inconvenience visitors to the Grant Museum. They are the reason we exist and the people we are here to serve. I know that all the staff at the Grant Museum are frustrated with the ongoing delays particularly as there’s nothing we can do whilst we wait for the renovation to finish. We are open today but some of the collection is still laid out on the floor and will have to restrict access around the museum until we can finish installing.

Our sincerest apologies to all our visitors who have been inconvenienced by this work. We take pride in the work we do here and we work incredibly hard to ensure that everything from our events, our publications, our work with colleagues and the visitor experience we provide is of the highest quality. Hopefully this explanation will help you to understand why we’re still not back to normal.

2 Responses to “The ongoing saga at the Grant Museum”

  • 1
    Daniel Morse wrote on 17 January 2012:

    On the plus side it was pretty cool to see so many exhibits laid out on the floor like a sea of zootomical fascination, and I was able to spot quite a lot of specimens that were new to me, presumably due to them normally being housed in the higher wall cabinets; so I for one am certainly not complaining!

  • 2
    LoveLondonMuseums wrote on 18 January 2012:

    I have not yet visited this museum but will soon to feature on http://www.love-london-museums.com.

    i am really looking forward to it and now it sounds like the experience will be even better with the new display cases and lighting, so perhaps my delayed visit was some sort of karma.

    Anyway thank you for letting us know what is going on. i totally agree, i’d rather know whats going on than be in the dark.

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