Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Grant Museum

Going to a museum in the school holidays means two things.
One, they're a lot busier, but
two, they put on special events.

Like at the Grant Museum in half term which put out a table of objects to touch.
The great thing about handling objects is that you get to turn things upside-down.
Very different from seeing them in glass cases.

Like the Horseshoe crab,

 a hedgehog.

 and a Dogfish.

Next time you get to touch a dried Dogfish, try running your fingers up and down the skin.
It is covered in tiny hooks a bit like velcro.
From head to tail, your fingers will run smoothly down the skin,
from tail to head, your fingers will get stuck on all the tiny hooks. We tried this, it worked.

Some things are a little too fragile to picked up, though but you can still get pretty close.

 For those of you that don't know, the Grant Museum is a zoological museum,
part of UCL, London.

We've been visiting regularly for a few years and love it.
Years ago in their old building the Giant Spider crab captured my son's imagination and on first visiting the new building, we had to check it was still there. It was.

There some truly weird and wonderful specimens.

Like the Surinam Toad whose babies burst out through her skin,

and this model of an elephant's heart, "bigger than my head".

Keeping with the elephant theme,
we were truly perplexed by this cast of an Elephant Bird egg on the left. 

So the egg to its right is an Ostrich egg and we know how tall Ostriches are, taller than me. I saw one in the Horniman recently, see it on my previous post, here.
"How tall must the Elephant Bird have been?"
Actually my friends language was a little more flowery than that, expressing sheer incredulity. You can see from our reflections how big the egg was. Sadly we'll never see the real bird for ourselves as they were hunted to extinction in Madagascar in the 1700s.

Back to more believable bird sizes, we chat about penguins.
"Even the eggs are so sweet."

Now what the Grant Museum has got that I have never seen anywhere else, is a collection of slides, 20,000 microscopic slides.

Where you can discover even more about Dogfish, their embryos,

and mice, embryo necks, the left sides.

We're not the first.
But it's a great opportunity for a #museumselfie.

We're not the only ones having a little fun with/in museums.
This jar of moles has its own Twitter account.

But watch your behaviour, surveillance measures have been put in place,
we're know we're being watched.

The Grant Museum is a real treasure.
Open Monday to Saturday, 1-5pm.
Details on their website, here.
Follow the @GlassJarOfMoles on their Twitter account, here.


  1. Goodness I've never even heard of this one. I shall bookmark it for a future visit.
    Many thanks.

  2. I too have never heard of this museum so thank you for sharing your visit with us. I've worked in a few museum with the most weird and wonderful objects both on display and in store but have never, ever come across a jar of moles before:)

  3. Oh! The kids adore "hands on." And it is so rare in museums. That Surinam Toad is super icky - I cant imagine that being the best way for it to give birth!

  4. What a great post on a terrific museum! When it was in its old home I visited when a man with a rowdy little girl was allowing her to shake some of the cases with the amazing glass sea creatures in. I haven't seen those in the new building, and hope they are kept in a rather safer location. Somehow the moles are what I think of first. I will have to check out their twitter account!

  5. We visited over half term too! Absolutely loved the museum, we spent ages looking at the slides in the micrarium. I liked the jars of bats and pig embryos next to the moles too.

  6. I've visited a few university museums over the years without realising how many there actually are around the UK, open to the general public. Two of my favourites are the Reading Museum of English Rural Life and the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery at Leeds University. Thank you for introducing me to The Grant Museum. If only I'd known about them all when my children were - well - children!

  7. It looks like a great place to visit with children! How great that they have hands on things too. I don't think that I will be following the happenings of the jar of moles though! xx

  8. I have visited the Petrie Museum also in UCL but was unaware of the Grant Museum, it looks a fantastic place for children. Have you ever been to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford? If not, I am sure that your children would love it. They have cabinets filled with all kinds of curiosities, and give children little torches with which to explore the cases and discover all the things in them.
    Thank you for becoming a follower, do you not have a followers button?

    1. I remember the Pitt Rivers from yeras ago, as a student. Would love to take my kids. I don't have a followers button, but use Bloglovin. I follow you on Bloglovin. I would love to know your thoughts on this. My email is on my blog if you'd have time to email me. Bloglovin is a very slow burner (and seems to work for craft blogs) & I wondered whether people prefer a follow button? Katharine x

    2. I have both, but tend not to look at Bloglovin every day. When you have a followers button all of your followers can automatically see your posts immediately on their dashboard, so they can readily keep track of you. In the meantime I will put you on my Bloglovin.

  9. Wonderful stuff! You may find this youtube video of interest:

  10. Hello Katharine, What a great museum. I think that you picked all my favorite exhibits to photograph. Perhaps my favorite is the jar of voles--what a weird object. Robert Benchley once mentioned the Surinam toad in one of his essays, which he wanted to look at, but "then look right away again." In the U.S. there is a kind of large, red-fleshed plum called Elephant Heart, developed by Luther Burbank, but obviously meant to conjure up pleasant connotations rather than the literal image you show!
    p.s. I have just subscribed to your blog, and am looking forward to future installments--I love museums, and you have a great take on them.

    1. Thanks for subscribing. That Surinam toad is so weird. There's a lot of weird in the Grant Museum. That's what makes it so appealing.

  11. A jar of moles is one sentence I never expected to read!
    Such a fascinating museum.
    I too have been enjoy the Suffragette series, I find anything AV does interesting as she uses such great language and is always so enthusiastic.
    Lisa x

  12. Such a fascinating place but despite being a Londoner have never heard of it! The picture of the horseshoe crab freaks me out and reminds me of a super gigantic woodlouse on its back! I must go and visit this place sometime even if it gives me the eebie jeebies a little bit! :-)

  13. I was eating a bacon sandwich when I came to the Surinam Toad. I had to put it on one side......

    1. Gosh, I hope I haven't put you off bacon? Or toads? Best eaten seperately!


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