By Jack Ashby, on 9 January 2017
History will most likely look back on 2016 as a reasonably significant year – you don’t need reminding why. It’s probably fair to say that the activities of the Grant Museum will not feature highly in the list of major global events, but nevertheless we like to think we had a positive impact on the lives of our supporters and visitors last year, both physically and digitally.
Team Grant had plenty to cheer about in 2016: our two exhibitions were based on artistic ways of looking at scientific topics. First was Skullpture, when we invited the Sculpture students from the Slade School of Fine Art to takeover the museum with their responses to our collection and history. Then, with Natural Creativity: Sex and Trickery we displayed a collection of stunning drawings by Clara Lacy depicting the species that are being studied by biologists in the UCL Department of Genetics, Evolution and the Environment: the sexual preferences, sex determination and sexual selection in the animal kingdom.
In terms of our collections, we reached a giant milestone last year – we finally know where every single specimen stored in the museum space is, possibly for the first time in our 190 year history. We’ve also been focusing our conservation work on our collection of wet specimens, with Project Pickle. We’ve had a really ambitious events programme too, the pinnacle being the dissection of cheetah by a team of five reseachers in front of a huge audience of over 300… It was a busy year.
I’ve announced those ranking at 10 to 2 in the charts, and exclusively revealing here that the most popular post of 2016 is…
The one about Why Pokémon Go is a gift to museums!
~~Fireworks – Fireworks – Cannon – Drums – Fireworks~~
Hooray! The Internet has finally come to its senses and something other than Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month has topped the charts! We never did understand why people would be interested in these dreary fossil fish, so well done for all of you who made the sensible choice and read something more whelming. Being a Victorian collection of dead animals, we naturally like to keep up with all the latest digital crazes, and our Top Post is all about the big one from the summer of 2016, and why it might be no bad thing for museums.
2016’s Top Ten in full:
- Why Pokémon Go is a gift to museums!
- Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month (January and five other months)**
- Please don’t call us a Cabinet of Curiosity
- Skullpture at the Grant Museum opens today
- Putting human remains on display – people as animals
- Bits of animals that are surprisingly the same size – Vol. 1 (a personal favourite)
- Eighty years extinct: today is Thylacine Day, commemorating the 80th anniversary of the death of the last known thylacine.
- Specimen of the Week 223: The Tasmanian wolf (we like thylacines a lot – weird that we get two in a row in the ranks!)
- Natural Creativity: Sex and Trickery opens at the Grant Museum
- Do some animals look too boring to be in a museum?
*for the sake of statistical truthfulness, our numbers are imperfect as we can’t count any page views that are generated by people clicking on links in our e-newsletter. The Top Ten here is based on page views from all other sources combined.
** Technically the UFFOTM featured five times in the true Top Ten (in 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th), so this list here is the Top Ten if we only count it once, to make it a bit more varied. We get to number 15 in the rankings before we have a list of ten with UFFOTM counted once, so people clearly are still interested in smudged grey fossils for some unfathomable reason.
Jack Ashby is Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology