Imagine if I asked you to name as many of London’s museums as you can. Which ones spring to mind? I’m guessing you probably thought of the British Museum, Science Museum and Natural History Museum, right?
These are all wonderful free museums that are well worth queuing up to see. If though, you’re in the market for another museum, perhaps one that isn’t quite so busy, maybe one that proudly displays a glass jar full of preserved moles, I think I know just the place.
Considering its location, it’s actually rather surprising so few people are aware of this museum’s existence. A mere 8 minutes walk from Euston Station and literally just down the road from the mighty British Museum, UCL’s Grant Museum of Zoology is in a prime location. If only people knew to be looking for it in the first place!
The museum moved to its current location in 2011, though you wouldn’t think so when you first walk in. Rows of glass cabinets with wooden frames and a mezzanine level with attractive iron railings lend an established and academic feel, as if the museum has been here for decades.
Inside the cabinets are skeletons, full or in part, from a wide range of species, some of which are now extinct. Some exhibits are more complete, preserved in fluid-filled glass jars or frozen in time through the art of taxidermy. Space being at a premium, the cabinets are filled up as much as possible, making exploring the exhibits and looking for the grossest thing possible a lot of fun.
The museum doesn’t bombard you with information, instead favouring one line descriptions and maybe a peculiar fact, which works really well. It means you can focus on studying (and frowning/grimacing/laughing at) the exhibits rather than feeling pressured into turning the visit into a learning experience. Sometimes, all we want to do is just look at stuff, right?
Of course, if you want to learn, staff are on hand to answer any questions you might have.
One of the museum’s best and most ingenious features is it’s Micrarium, a showcase for its collection of microscopic creatures captured between glass slides and illuminated from behind. This tiny corner of the museum is a visual treat and somewhere one could spend an entire afternoon exploring.
A notice by the Micrarium informs visitors that it is said 95% of all known animal species are smaller than your thumb. At the Grant Museum of Zoology, you can get to know a handful of them, a rare privilege and one we heartily recommend you take advantage of next time you’re in London.
How to visit the Grant Museum of Zoology
Address: 21 University St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6DE
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 1pm-5pm, closed on Sundays
Entrance to the Grant Museum of Zoology is completely free for everyone. Opening hours are restricted however, so do make a note of the opening times (see above).
Getting to the museum is really easy. The nearest Underground station is Euston Square on the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines (3 minute walk). Alternatively, you can alight at Warren Street station on the Northern and Victoria lines (5 minute walk).
For more information and the latest updates, please visit the Grant Museum of Zoology website.
Are you intrigued? Will you be visiting the Grant Museum of Zoology? Let us know in the comments below.