Visiting the Grant Museum of Zoology: All You Need to Know

Grant Museum of Zoology
Grant Museum of Zoology
Grant Museum of Zoology

The Grant Museum of Zoology is one of the most fascinating museums in London. It’s a tiny place that packs a punch, and it’s home to some of the strangest displays we’ve ever seen in a museum, namely a jar of moles and a wall of mice bones.

Grant Museum of Zoology

The jar of moles seems to be a favourite among visitors, so much so it was turned into a pin badge you can buy. It’s unknown why 18 moles are rammed into one jar, but storing multiple specimens in one jar has benefits. It cuts costs by being an efficient way of storing lots of specimens and also makes them easier to transport. These particular specimens could have belonged to a researcher studying moles, where multiple were required, or they would be dissected by a class – one for each student.

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A Brief History

Situated within University College London, the Grant Museum of Zoology is the last university zoology museum in London and one of the UK’s oldest natural history museums.

Established in 1828 by Robert Edmond Grant, the museum was intended to be a comprehensive teaching resource for his zoology students. Grant was a pioneering figure in comparative anatomy and evolution who envisioned curating a collection showcasing the sheer breadth of animal life, facilitating knowledge sharing and discovery.

Today, the museum is home to 68,000 specimens from across the animal kingdom, including some rare specimens of extinct animals.

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Some Unique Stuff

The museum has a lot of stuff for such a small space. It’s jam-packed. Aside from the moles and mice bones already mentioned, the Grant Museum is home to tons more interesting exhibits, and here are their top ten exhibits:

  • The Brain Collection – a load of brains from The Gordon Museum Brain Collection, including a tiger cub, domestic dog and turtle, all preserved in alcohol and suspended in jars using thread.
  • Quagga skeleton – one of only seven left. With its faded stripes, this distinctive South African zebra vanished in the 1880s due to relentless hunting for its pelt. The last of its kind died in Amsterdam Zoo on the 12th of August 1883.
  • Thylacines – another example of modern extinction. The thylacine, known as Tasmanian tigers and related to Tasmanian devils, were hunted to extinction because they believed they killed sheep.
  • The Micrarium – in just 2.52 square metres (the size of their old store cupboard!), you can see 2,323 of the tiniest specimens in the museum’s collection and 252 lantern slides, all wonderfully back-lit.
  • African Rock Python skeleton – a typical snake skeleton might not be that interesting, but this one is constructed in such a way that it is pretty captivating. It’s wrapped around some wood, packed in a display cabinet, and was documented as a green anaconda. However, a member of the public wrote in to say it’s not a green anaconda but an African Rock Python, noting the differences in a photograph from the 1960s.
  • Dodo Bones – the dodo’s story holds profound significance as an early, stark demonstration of humankind’s capacity to drive a species to extinction. The Grant Museum’s two boxes of dodo specimens, unearthed from the Mare aux Songes in southeast Mauritius, offer a tangible reminder of this loss.
  • Giant Deer – as you enter the museum, you’ll notice these antlers behind the desk because they are massive. They belong to the giant deer, which lived between 400000 and 7000 years ago, from Ireland to Siberia. It’s been said they are the largest of their kind in the UK.
  • Blaschka Glass Models of Invertebrates – Marine invertebrates are difficult to preserve. Hence, Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolph set out to create these anatomically accurate models of sea creatures out of glass. The Blashchkas started their careers as jewellers in Dresden, Germany, and came from a long line of Chech artisans.
  • The Negus Collection of Bisected Heads – this collection showcases a fascinating diversity of bisected heads, each with one intact side and a revealing cross-section. Prepare to see the inside of the heads of a chimpanzee, wallaby, sloth, seal, pangolin, dog, lemur, wolffish, calf, rabbit, and shrew.
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Visitor Information

📍 Rockefeller Building, 21 University St, London, WC1E 6DE

💷 Free


🕙 Tue-Fri 1 pm – 5 pm, Sat 11 am – 5 pm, Sun-Mon closed

📞 0203 108 9000

Grant Museum of Zoology Photos

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Search Queries and FAQs

Grant Museum of Zoology tickets

Good news – you don’t need tickets to visit the Grant Museum of Zoology! Admission is free, and no booking is necessary – simply turn up during opening hours. You can access the museum for research visits on weekday mornings between 10 am and 1 pm, which you must book. You can do so by emailing [email protected].

Grant Museum of Zoology opening times

The Grant Museum of Zoology is open five days a week – Tuesday to Friday from 1 pm to 5 pm and Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Is the Grant Museum of Zoology worth visiting?

Yes, it is. It’s a small but mighty museum and one not on the tourist radar. It’s a fascinating place with a wide range of interesting exhibits, and it’s totally free to enter!

Grant Museum of Zoology

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