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  • Specimen of the Week 315 : The Red Ancients

    By Tannis Davidson, on 3 November 2017

    Back in September, a Specimen of the Week blog post The Gross, The Bad and The Ugly featured a number jarred specimens which were, in part due to their dreadful condition, disposed of. They were all fluid preserved specimens which had over time deteriorated and disintegrated and could not be salvaged by conservation.

    But not all specimens in jars have this potential to turn nasty. There are thousands of fluid specimens in the collection which are in excellent condition. The Grant Museum also has specimens in jars which are not fluid preserved at all and, by the virtue of their jarred-ness, have been shielded from the effects of deterioration and look as lively and colourful as they did on their last living day.

    So, as a counterpart to the uglies, this week’s blog is showcasing some lovelies… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 310: The Gross, the Bad and the Ugly

    By Tannis Davidson, on 29 September 2017

    Ah, Specimen of the Week. The weekly showcasing of specimens from the Grant Museum. Over the years this blog has featured the furry, the fluid, the skeletal, the dangerous, the poisonous, the new, the old, the damaged, the conserved, the plentiful, the endangered, the extant, the extinct, the big, the beautiful, the tiny, the hideous, the lost and the found.

    The specimens are meticulously selected each week to offer a bit of fun, insight and enjoyment to the reader. This week however, is a somber affair. Rather than a celebration of life, this week’s Specimen of the Week is an obituary. Say goodbye to… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 304: Fossil Box 12

    By Tannis Davidson, on 11 August 2017

    Fossil Box 12

    Fossil Box 12

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is, depending on how you count it, one single entity known as Fossil Box 12. It is also 89 individual specimens that have recently been transferred from UCL’s Geology collection. In total, 12 boxes containing 408 vertebrate fossils were transferred to the Grant Museum.

    The new material is a welcome addition to the Museum’s fossil vertebrate reference collection and will be available for use in teaching and for research. Some of these specimens have already made their social media debuts such as Gideon Mantell’s Iguanodon bones and several fossil fish featuring on the Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month blog.

    Fossil Box 12 was chosen as this week’s Specimen of the Week to celebrate the new fossils as well as all the work that has gone into documenting the new acquisitions.  (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 299 : The Cephalaspis Model and Mould

    By Tannis Davidson, on 7 July 2017

    LDUCZ-V730 Cephalaspis salweyi model on mould

    LDUCZ-V730 Cephalaspis salweyi model and mould

    This week’s Specimen of the Week pays tribute to one of the most influential natural history model makers of the 20th century, Vernon Edwards. A retired Navy commander, Edwards collaborated with scientists at the British Museum (Natural History) throughout the 1920’s – 1950’s creating reconstructions of extinct animals and geological dioramas.

    His work was based on the latest palaeontological evidence and the combination of accuracy and high artistic quality ensured the popularity of the models which can found in museums, universities and collections around the world.

    The Grant Museum is fortunate to have several painted plaster models made by Vernon Edwards – all of them models of extinct Devonian fish –  as well as one of the original moulds. This blog previously highlighted Edwards’ Pteraspis models but this week’s model specimen is… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 291: Leech Embryo Models

    By Tannis Davidson, on 12 May 2017

    Back in January, this blog featured a set of 36 wax models which were chosen by UCL Museum Studies students as a research project for their Collections Curatorship course. At that time, the models were a complete mystery. They were unidentified, undocumented and unaccessioned.

    I’m thrilled to report that we now have answers! Due to the brilliant efforts of students Nina Davies, Clare Drinkell and Alice Tofts the wax models are no longer a mystery. Here they are (again) – this week’s Specimens of the Week are the…

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 286: The Notebook Models

    By Tannis Davidson, on 7 April 2017

    Practical Zoology Notebook

    Student Notebook 1911

    As is often the case, it is difficult to choose a single specimen to highlight in this blog. The Grant Museum has 68,000 specimens and each one has a story to tell. Sometimes the stories are connected and link specimens together in unexpected ways, which is why this week’s focus is on a quartet of specimens, rather than one.

    At first glance the four specimens may not appear to have much in common. One is a glass jellyfish, two are wax models of different parasitic worms and the other no longer exists. What they do share is a common history of use, artistic beauty and legacy. This week’s Specimens of the Week are…
    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 280: Preserved Gharial

    By Tannis Davidson, on 24 February 2017

    Over the past year, UCL Culture’s conservation team has been undertaking work on a project to conserve many of the Grant Museum’s specimens which are preserved in fluid (read more about ‘Project Pickle’ here). During the ongoing work, specimens have been re-hydrated, remounted, rehoused and re-identified.

    Along the way there have also been some new discoveries of specimens that we didn’t know were in the collection. Some of the jars were full of fluid so discoloured that it was impossible to see the animal inside and it was only when the specimen was taken out that the identification could be made. One jar had an astounding 11 different animals inside including this week’s Specimen of the Week…

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 275: Mystery wax models

    By Tannis Davidson, on 20 January 2017

    In a departure from tradition, this week’s blog will focus on what we don’t know about a specimen, rather than what we do know. The reason being is that the specimen in question is rather mysterious. All of the usual pieces of information which can help identify a specimen are lacking  – no number, no entry in the accession records, no associated documentation and no taxonomic information.

    A perfect candidate for some major research which is why it was ‘auctioned’ as a mystery object to this year’s students taking part in the Collection Curatorship class as part of their MA in Museum Studies at UCL. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the core skills of a curator : to understand objects and how to research them.  Luckily for us, the ‘natural history’ group chose this specimen and are about to flex their collective research muscles in order to help identify this specimen…

    Grant Museum of Zoology Mystery wax models

    Grant Museum of Zoology Mystery wax models

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 270: Dalmanites trilobite

    By Tannis Davidson, on 16 December 2016

     

    LDUCZ-J422 Dalmanites caudatus

    LDUCZ-J422 Dalmanites caudatus

    O trilobite, o trilobite
    You must be Dalmanites
    O trilobite, o trilobite,
    You must be Dalmanites

    Your exoskell’s ovoid in outline
    Your frontal lobe is vaulted fine
    O trilobite, o trilobite
    You must be Dalmanites

    Eleven thoracic segments
    Pleural furrows deeply impressed
    O trilobite, o trilobite
    You must be Dalmanites*

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is a jolly little chap, ready to bring the Christmas cheer to Grant Museum blog readers everywhere.  An early gift from Santa’s pack, this fossil has recently arrived at the Grant Museum following a transfer from UCL’s Geology teaching collection. Despite being a bit broken and a bit repaired, this trilobite has received a warm welcome from all who have glanced upon his charming petrified remains. Behold this week’s Specimen of the Week… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 265: Termite collection

    By Tannis Davidson, on 11 November 2016

    The story of this week’s Specimen of the Week begins in 1862, in Prague, with the establishment of a small business offering teaching materials to aid in the study of natural sciences. The business grew, and by the late 1880’s, its proprietor Václav Frič was procuring zoological specimens from around the world (1). He accomplished this through contacting traveller-collectors such as fellow Czech Enrique Stanko Vraz – the man who collected this week’s highlighted specimens…

    LDUCZ-L71, L72, L73, L75, L77, L78, L80, L82 Termes bellicosus

    LDUCZ-L71, L72, L73, L75, L76, L77, L78, L80, L82 Macrotermes bellicosus

    (more…)