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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the Week: Week Five

Emma-Louise Nicholls14 November 2011

Scary MonkeyAs winter attempts quite convincingly to chill our doors, I thought I’d turn our attention down south and feature a mammal from the Antarctic. The first mammal to be featured in Specimen of the Week (pretty exciting stuff I know you’ll agree) this week’s specimen of the week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week Four

Emma-Louise Nicholls7 November 2011

Scary MonkeyWelcome to the 100th UCL Museums and Collections blog post!!! What an honour! I shall definitely be sharing a wine with scary monkey (see left) later on and he says he gives you all permission to leave work early for the momentous occasion. When you first start writing a weekly blog you suddenly become very aware of time and more to the point, how quickly it whips by! Already it is week four of the new specimen of the week blog. Someone pointed out yesterday it was only seven weeks until the new year. Frightening!


Anywho, this week I have decided to choose one of my most favourite animals to tell you about. It is one of the largest species of the group to which it belongs and famous for its weird appearance. This week’s specimen of the week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week Three

Emma-Louise Nicholls31 October 2011

Specimen of the Week: Week ThreeFirstly, HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!!!


This week’s specimen of the week is a scary creature of the deep that uses deception and cunning to survive in a hostile world. The specimen of the week is… (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week two

Emma-Louise Nicholls24 October 2011

Scary MonkeyThis week I have selected one of the most beautiful creatures I have seen. You absolutely have to see images of these animals because they are stunning!

As one of the most beautiful species we have on our planet, the specimen of the week is… (more…)

Hidden gems of the Grant Museum: Introducing ‘Specimen of the week’!

Emma-Louise Nicholls17 October 2011

The woolly monkey with the manic grinThis story is not about adoptions, but that is where it begins…


Being majorly involved in our stupendously popular adoption scheme, I get to speak to a lot of our new members and potentials about their specimen choice. A phrase I hear a lot from people who have just arrived is “everything has already gone!” Oh so how untrue my friends. You see, the asset which endows the Grant Museum with its astounding atmospheric ambiance, is the Victorian ‘squeeze as many specimens in as possible’ display method. As a result, although we are approximately the size of 1/6th of a football pitch (apparently?) compared to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington which probably covers around 9000 football pitches, we have the same number of specimens on display to the public. Yes! I’m not making that up! (Except the 9000 football pitches… possibly…) So, is everything already adopted? Of COURSE not! Yes most of the very large articulated skeletons have gone but we have around 6,800 specimens on display and currently 201 adopters caring for a total of 213 adoptids. That leaves 6,587 orphans, and that is only counting the ones on display. There are a further 61,200 orphans back stage that us Grant Museum staff have to cater to the emotions for. What people are sadly missing in their excitement are the hidden gems of the Grant Museum. Of which, there are literally thousands. You just have to look more closely… (more…)

An itch I cannot scratch

Emma-Louise Nicholls14 June 2011

Adoption posterWhen I started my job at the Grant Museum of Zoology one of my roles was to sort out the adoption scheme that, due to an eight month period of closure, needed some… attention.

Now as anyone who knows me personally will attest, when I do a job, I like to do it well. During my A-Levels I was the first person in my particular recruitment batch to achieve all five gold stars at McDonalds. By quite some weeks. This work ethic definitely applies to a job I actually care about. However there is one not at all subtle difference- at McDonalds I didn’t have an arch nemesis thwarting my every attempt to achieve my goals. Unlike at the Grant Museum…



I need someone who will love me

Emma-Louise Nicholls29 May 2011

V.58 Pristiophoridae. Close-upDear humans,

My name is V.58 Pristiophoridae. You can call me V.58, like Johnny 5. You know- from Short Circuit? Anyway, I’m a sawshark. Not a sawfish, no no, a sawshark. My head is separate from my pectoral fins and I have a moustache half way down my snout. That’s how you can tell. I can’t put a photo up here of my friends in the wild because they are so rare and I can’t afford to pay royalties to the people who have any. If you do an internet search, 98% of what you’ll be looking at will be sawfish.