Photo: Lion's skull © University of Reading
The Cole Museum of Zoology’s £42,000 facelift will be revealed in just under two weeks.
Featuring more than 3,500 specimens from the Animal Kingdom the new-look museum is located in the foyer of the Animal and Microbial Sciences (AMS) building at University of Reading Whiteknights campus.
Photo: African Tree Pangolin © University of Reading
"Before the redevelopment a great many of the specimens were hidden away all over the Animal Microbial Sciences building. Some were on display but in quite old fashioned display cases." says Craig Hillsley, a spokesperson for Reading University.
"Now from an almost Victorian museum we have a 21st century museum," he adds.
Refurbishment has included upgrading all the display cases and lighting to 21st century standards, re-arranging the layout so that it forms a logical route through evolution and putting in place a conservation programme.
Photo: The new-look Museum of Zoology, suspended from the ceiling is the skeleton of a False Killer Whale © University of Reading
Initiated by Professor Francis Joseph Cole soon after his arrival at the university in 1906, the collection houses specimens from the Animal Kingdom acquired from all over the world mostly during the first half of the twentieth century.
Highlights include some of the largest spider crab specimens in the world, a False Killer Whale, in fact a dolphin and not a whale, and the skeleton of a male Indian elephant that once belonged to a circus.
Photo: Indian elephant skeleton © University of Reading
"While other collections are larger, nowhere in the UK is there a single location where the diversity of the Animal Kingdom can be appreciated in such an intimate space," says Dr Steve Hopkin, Curator of Cole Museum. "'See the Animal Kingdom in an hour' is our slogan."
The redevelopment was funded by a £25,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board as well as contributions from AMS, the Teaching and Learning Development Fund and Friends of Reading University.
Coinciding with National Science Week, the launch will take place on Wednesday March 17. Phil Rainbow, Head of Zoology at the Natural History Museum in London will perform the official opening.