Robert Edmond Grant was the first Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in Britain. Upon arrival at University College in London, he discovered that there were no specimens to aid his teaching. He began to assemble a collection and the museum was started in 1827. Grant went on to become one of the founders of modern zoology and had a heavy influence on Charles Darwin. The museum’s collection has continued to grow and today is home to nearly 70,000 specimens.
Its main purpose continues to be for academics. Students and professors are still the main clientele. Do not expect to battle the crowds here. Specimens on display range from skeletons to preserved bodies of various animals. It’s definitely a unique experience, and you will probably learn a thing or two.
University College London is also home to several other museums. The Petrie Museum of Egyptology has more than 80,000 items from ancient Egypt and Sudan. It is one of the foremost collections in the world, featuring everything from sandals, pots, and toys to mummies. Anybody interested in Ancient Egypt should check it out.
Both of these museums are a little archaic, with minimal labeling and without sleek displays, but for the curious the museums at University College are a hidden gem.
Address: Rockefeller Building, University College London, 21 University Street
Telephone: +44 020 3108 2052
Metro: Euston Square (Metropolitan, Hammersmith, Circle), Warren Street (Victoria, Northern)
Hours: Grant Museum open Monday-Friday 13:00-17:00; closed on university holidays
Petrie Museum open Tuesday-Saturday 13:00-17:00; closed over Christmas and Easter