The Grant museum is so completely different to the larger London museums where you can wander around the different floors getting lost for a whole day! We walked around this place in about an hour, and I felt I had learnt more than a whole day at the natural history museum (not to say the natural history museum isn’t amazing – it is. This is just a whole different kettle of fish).
The larger museums for one, are packed. Crowded, noisy, ques of children on school trips, having to wait to actually see the exhibits… I think there were about 7 other people at the Grant Museum when we were there. We could take as long as we wanted to look around at all the different objects.
I find the larger museums often have huge exhibits and displays, and sometimes there is just so much to see you can’t take it all in properly, rushing from one place to the other.
This museum mainly had cabinets of small displays… very unique and individual. A lot of jars with animals and organs inside. Taxidermy models. Skeletons out in the open that you could stand right next to without barriers or ropes.
In the middle they had large tables and chairs. Because of the small space you could sit down for a rest, but still be able to reach out and touch and look at some of the exhibits. On the tables were books ranging from hardback baby books to huge Darwin books – and everything in between! Jakob enjoyed sitting and reading about dinosaurs and fish while we took a break.
Each exhibit was packed with information. From natural history, to ecology, to medicine. Something I found interesting was that they often explained why items were there, how they came to be there and linked it to wider topics – such as an exhibit showing animals from the Galapagos islands and then going on to explain that modern tourism to previously natural spaces that were left alone is endangering certain species.
I also enjoyed reading about the different methods they use to preserve and prepare specimens and why.
Although at first glance the museum looks very old fashioned, as you walk around it is very interactive. There are tidbits of information in the various displays, with a thought provoking question underneath and ipads, with a discussion page so you can leave a comment and read what other people have said about it and reply. Some of the questions would make fascinating debate subjects – such as ‘should british red squirrels be protected when they are common in Europe?’ or ‘should we clone extinct animals?’
You can see the list of questions here, and peoples responses to them. You can even add your own from the website without having to visit the museum. I love it, I think it is an amazing concept with so much potential and I hope bigger museums take note and do something similar.
New this year, a fascinating exhibition called the micrarium. This fits in so well with the style of museum, raw and quirky, interesting and curious all in one package. A converted office space with wall-to-wall slides and tiny notecards next to each and every one to explain what you’re looking at. They also have magnifying glasses to peruse the slides at your leisure! Jakob loved this section of the museum!
One of the other things I loved about this museum is that you can ‘adopt’ exhibits. Yep… anything from a jar of moles, to a 5 foot anaconda skeleton, to dodo bones, to a giant clam…
I took a form, I’m going to surprise Jakob with an adoption and go there and show him very excited. You can list 3 things in case what you want is taken before they receive the form. I’m going to put down the jar of starfish and the giant clam because he loved those and they’re not adopted yet… not sure about the last one!
My one and only tiny downside to this museum? The height of some of the exhibitions. Me and Ian couldn’t even see some of them as areas were floor to ceiling… let alone Jakob. In some areas, the actual exhibitions started above his head. So there was a lot of lifting up, and down, and up, and down….
I know the museum is probably aimed at adults, not kids… but I think most kids would find it fascinating – and they are very welcome there! So it’s a shame the lower space isn’t utilised all the way around.
Other than that teeny tiny thing, we absolutely loved this place. Will 100% be visiting again and telling everyone we know how great it is