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How do you move an Auto-Icon?

Katie Davenport-Mackey26 March 2020

Until recently, the ‘Auto-Icon’ of the eccentric English philosopher – comprising Bentham’s skeleton and wax head – sat in a wooden box in the corner of the Wilkins Building, dressed in 18th century clothing and holding Bentham’s favourite walking stick known as ‘Dapple’.

Bentham is UCL’s most popular museum exhibit, attracting visitors from all over the world. His new home provides greatly enhanced preservation conditions, better visitor access and a place at the centre of the student community.

We asked Christina McGregor, Head of Collections Management at UCL Culture what is involved in conserving and moving Jeremy Bentham.

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Specimen of the Week 391: The Domestic Cat Skeleton

Katie Davenport-Mackey17 January 2020

This blog was written by UCL Culture volunteer Jingyuan Zou.

The Grant Museum not only has many fascinating specimens in its collection such as the subfossils of extinct giant deer and dodo bones, skeletons of lions and dugongs, but also many common domestic animals that we may see in everyday life. Many people may be familiar with the appearance of an extinct animal such as saber-toothed cat, however often the skeletons of more common animals are the most unfamiliar specimens viewed from a museum. This week’s Specimen of the Week features one such ‘common’ animal that looks quite different in its Grant Museum guise…

**The Domestic Cat Skeleton**

 

LDUCZ-Z2602 Felis silvestris catus Domestic cat skeleton

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Specimen of the Week 386: A Cocktail of Spirits: Fluid Preservation at the Grant Museum

Katie Davenport-Mackey19 July 2019

The Grant Museum contains a staggering number of specimens – the estimate is more than 68,000 – and approximately 10% are fluid preserved specimens. Fluid preservation describes specimens that are preserved in chemicals that protect them from deterioration. There are three components to a fluid preserved specimen:

  1. The fixed specimen: The specimen is injected or ‘fixed’ with a chemical that prevents decomposition by stabilising the protein molecules. The most common fixative is formaldehyde.
  2. The preservative fluid: Most fluid preserved specimens are preserved in solutions of alcohol or formalin, a mixture of formaldehyde and water.
  3. The container: Containers are typically glass jars or bottles sealed with a closure.

Below is a brief description of some of the different preservative fluids that can be found in the Grant Museum.

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Specimen of the week 279: Jar of mole (crickets)

Will J Richard17 February 2017

Hello! Will Richard here, blogging again for you all. And this time I’ve chosen a specimen that I can’t believe isn’t better known. Everybody loves a jar of moles… so how about a jar of mole crickets?

LDUCZ-L45 European mole cricket

LDUCZ-L45 European mole cricket

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The Art of the Grant

Emma-Louise Nicholls25 February 2014

At the Grant Museum both staff and our visitors are very lucky because we do not have quite the same level of red tape as most non-university based museums. Our collections are historically for teaching only, and even now are still used heavily in undergraduate courses at UCL, which means that physical access to specimens is much more possible than in non-teaching based collections. It is for this reason, as well as the shining personalities of the Grant Museum staff no doubt, that our Museum is extremely popular with artists. The ability to choose a specimen (within reason… the mounted donkey skeleton is a little heavy) and have it placed on the table in front of you for you to gaze at and draw to your heart’s content, is surely nearing unparalleled levels of excitement. (more…)