The free museums in London are great. Well, they’re a good free attraction in any city. Just ask anyone their recommendations for London and in the top 5 will be The Natural History Museum; and rightly so, it’s a fantastic place that you could spend days exploring… But what if you’ve already done that? or don’t fancy the crowds? What if there was another place hidden just around the corner that has yet to experience a huge shroud of tourists? Here’s why you should visit this unique museum and experience it for yourself!!
“Getting close enough to be able to compare your own head size to a genuine specimen is a rarity for museums!”
Just a 15-minute walk from Russell Square tube lies The Grant Museum of Zoology, a museum dedicated to the preservation and research of the animal kingdom. It’s home to over 60,000 animal science specimen being used to help teach us more about the birds, the bees and other animals and guess what – it’s totally free (but donations are welcome).
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When we stepped through the doors we were surprised at how small it was, but also by how much there was to see. Straight away we were greeted with huge magnificent antlers and displays of insects, each one labelled with both its Latin and English name, but also with the person’s name who had chosen to sponsor that particular specimen; this museum relies completely on donations, and public sponsorship – so not only can you visit, you could potentially own your very own little piece of it too. As we worked our way through the displays, I was increasingly amazed by the animals they had. Lots of which; I hadn’t even heard about – and I grew up with an obsession with David Attenborough – [god that man’s a legend].
I won’t go into too much detail about the rarities we saw, that would ruin the surprise, right? One of the main displays that Dec was particularly taken with was the huge Mammoth’s skull, and getting close enough to be able to compare your own head size to a genuine specimen is a rarity for museums! It also shows you a unique look into the anatomy side of things with several of the specimen being displayed dissected – We have to remember animal dissection is a huge part of the learning process for Zoologists and Biologists alike, so the fact that these specimen then get to continue their teaching in these displays instead of simply being thrown away is amazing.
Picture by Josefine
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the work that the team do there is remarkable. It’s also a place that’s often quiet and void of tourists – having not yet been listed as one of the top 10 attractions in London on TripAdvisor. Neither is it on a busy road, so people don’t pass it often. So if you’re looking for somewhere quiet to spend an hour or two; this is the place for you! I promise if you’re a lover of nature this place offers a unique insight into the natural world that very few others can. It might not be as big and grand as the Natural History Museum – but good things come in small packages. So next time you travel to London, give it a try, it might surprise and inspire you!
Picture by Josefine
How to get to Grants Museum of Zoology
The Grant Museum of Zoology is easy to get to. The closest station is Euston Square on the circular line, from here it’s just a 10-minute walk around the corner. After you’ve visited the museum, there are plenty of parks and other attractions nearby too!
A quick bit of History about the Grant Museum of Zoology
The Grant Museum is one of the oldest Natural History collections in the UK, despite being overshadowed by the nearby British History Museum. With over 68,000 zoological specimens, a trip to this museum is like looking through a window into the whole animal kingdom. The collection was started in 1827 by Robert Edmond Grant as an educational aid for the newly opened University of London and is still used today by students and researchers from all across the country.
In a bid to keep education on the natural world accessible to all, the Grant Museum of Zoology is free to visit but they do appreciate donations towards the museum’s upkeep.
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