Friday, 7 July 2017

The Grant Museum

Back around 1980 I was a postgraduate student at University College London, and spent a lot of time that should have been spent studying just wandering the backstreets of Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia, where the Old, Weird London was still in evidence. The area was crammed with second-hand and antiquarian bookshops, musical instrument repairers, record shops, specialists in umbrellas and walking sticks, and the kind of strange little outlets that sold sex-aids or surgical prosthetics (often hard to tell apart). It's all gone now, replaced by coffee-shops and upscale eateries. Apart from that umbrella shop.

However, in all the time I spent mooching around at UCL, I somehow failed to notice the Grant Museum of Zoology. In fact, despite searching the Web a number of times last year for potential "museology" sites, it was only a few weeks ago that it came to my attention. It's remarkable how something like this can hide in plain sight: I must have walked straight past it dozens of times. In fact, in trying to find it yesterday (not realising it had been moved from its original site in the confusing warren of buildings and infrastructure that is UCL's main site) I walked straight past it yet again on my way to Gower Street from Warren Street tube.

It was worth a bit of pavement-pounding on a very hot July day, though, even though it was dimly lit and I'd forgotten to bring my 60mm macro lens. So, despite the fact that the photographs are not optimal, I couldn't resist knocking together the two composites above last night. And, I mean to say, where else are you going to find a jar of moles? Seriously: a jar full of moles! Ah, the world we have lost...


Anonymous said...

These are fascinating pictures! The icing on the cake are the blueish-violet reflections on the jars. Also, the greenish tinge of the second picture adds to the uncanny atmosphere. My favourite is the jar of moles, but if it was mine, I would probably go for a tighter crop here.

I could imagine that the pictures are promising raw material for collages, since taking the specimens out of their context has the potential to further enhance the creepy mood.

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...


When I go back (which I certainly will) I'll take a more appropriate lens and a monopod. I only had the 27mm pancake on the Fuji (~40mm equivalent) which was deeply frustrating... The moles especially, which were too far back in a cabinet to get a tighter shot.

I suppose "creepy" is the word, but I prefer your earlier "uncanny"! The green teeth on the bat are simply amazing...