I was at the Grant Museum of Zoology, one of UCL’s public museums in Bloomsbury, last week, helping install a new set of iPads for some interactive exhibits in there. The museum a small but fascinating space, it has been around since the 1820s but recently moved into a, larger space, although it still has a lovely old-fashioned feel to it, with display cabinets and drawers full of unusual stuffed or pickled animals, such as the Jar of Moles.
Anyway, I was delighted to finally visit the Micrarium, a new exhibit dedicated to the very small, it consists of three walls crammed full of slides of tiny things, displayed around a booth that you can walk into, with a mirror on the ceiling to complete the effect. While looking at the tiny specimens is an interesting exercise in itself, I was particularly taken with the design. Unlike the rest of the museum, which is mainly made of varnished wood cases and dimly lit for preservation reasons, the Micrarium is strikingly lit and immediately invites closer investigation – you have to get up close and personal with these tiny specimens in order to simply see what they are.
The museum and Micrarium are free to visit and are open on weekdays from 1-5pm, located at the junction of Gower Street and University Street (I do love that there is a street with that name in London). If you do manage to visit, take a moment to answer one of the philosophical questions on the iPads, or tweet #GrantQR.