Visiting the Grant Museum
One of the lesser known museums in London may be the Grant Museum Of Zoology, this is an obscure little museum full of various things in jars and many skeletons, if you are in need of a reference for something partially dissected you will be able to find it here… We visited on a rainy Monday afternoon and fortunately it was very quiet which meant there was no need to rush our visit. Upon entering the wooden panels take you back into the Victorian era, this is continued with the more curiosity cabinet curation than the clean layout we have come to expect in most modern museums today. Throughout the museum there are hand written labels with the specimens, I find the museum on the whole very human it shows so much about curiosity and the idea of investigation and discovery without the interference of a computer screen.
Although at times it becomes borderline creepy there are some sad notes too, some specimens in here were the last of their kind, whereas others are too recognisable (an example would be the head of a white rabbit preserved in Formaldehyde ). However, there is something fabulous about the dark space that keeps the viewer investigating further, either side of these walkways are staked with specimens its a bit overwhelming.
I found this bat strangely beautiful, its wings are so paper thin its incredible, you can see all the veins are like little cobwebs running through them, its something you don’t often see.
I found this little display of plastic dinosaurs next to some other specimens really amusing hence I thought I’d photograph it and share it with you, it was the last thing i would have expected to find here… I think?
One of the next Things I found of interest was the collection of slides built into a little alcove, again some of these were really old but as a collection were a vast array of specimens. This arrangement was really engaging and allowed the viewer to get up close and see through each slide . On mass the various shapes and colours took on the appearance of an art instillation it was so very different from your normal museum curation, this was assisted by the mirror above meaning you literally walked into a tiny box of slides.
The final collection I wanted to talk about I saw this whilst walking round the first part of the museum and originally thought they were larger specimens either hung or strung to the contrary what I found was amazing ( I just wish I’d had a camera with a better zoom). This collection is made of tiny bones, I presume full skeletons in many glass vials creating these vast wall panels.
Once again this museum was strangely beautiful with its tiny fragile bones, it had a slightly saddened quality, we could begin to read this as we would artwork perhaps the glass caging the fragile specimen yet it has been made so by the human who places it there. either way there is something very impacting when faced with walls of tiny creatures who once lived.
My final thoughts on this obscure curiosity cabinet would be that I find once again I am thinking about the curiosity of mankind, the want of knowledge and search for understanding. simultaneously it reminds me of how we reflect upon the past, both our own through the unchanged Victorian style setting, to the way we now understand and have learnt through processes and ideas about living things and of course about death. I hope to return to this strange place and next time im planning on spending a bit more time with those tiny bottled bones.
You can visit the Grant Museum of Zoology for free and only a short walk from the British museum, I recommend checking the opening hours before you visit.