"Really beautiful" Micrarium fills old office with tiny wonders at Grant Museum of Zoology

By Culture24 Reporter | 21 February 2013

Exhibition preview: The Micrarium, Grant Museum of Zoology, London

Small-scale shows have nothing on the miniscule nature of the Grant’s take on tiny specimens.

Nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award this week, the University College London space is currently giving over an old office to a back-lit cave covered in wall-to-wall microscope slides.

Their subjects include a whole squid, its body squeezed into a couple of millimetres, and beetles sliced along the entire length of their antennae, head, legs and body, measuring the grand total of a tenth of a millimetre.

“We don’t think anything like this has ever been done before,” says Jack Ashby, calling it a “really beautiful” installation delving into diversity.

“While public displays very much focus on larger animals, most natural history collections have thousands of very small specimens kept in their storerooms which are rarely shown to the public.

"Museums have struggled to come up with a good way of displaying material like this. We can’t wait to see what people think.”

Provision has still been made for giant animals, with tiny pieces of whales, mammoths and giraffes appearing.

Legs of fleas, more mysteriously, are arranged to show their muscles, assembled in a replica of the coat of arms of the Isle of Man.

  • Open Monday-Saturday 1pm-5pm. Admission free. Follow the museum on Twitter @GrantMuseum.


A photo of a female curator assembling a series of tiny slides on an illuminated wall
Conservator Felicity Bolton cleaning the Micrarium slides in-situ© UCL, Grant Museum of Zoology / Robert Eagle
A close up photo of a series of scientific slides showing parts of insects and flies
(Left to right) a whole sea spider, mantis shrimp, beetle slice and a pair of stained brine shrimps© UCL, Grant Museum of Zoology / Robert Eagle
A photo of a microscopic look at some sort of flea-like creature in dark red and green
A young cuttlefish© UCL, Grant Museum of Zoology / Richard Weedon
A photo of a microscopic slide showing small insects in red and yellow against black
A group of copepods (small crustaceans)© UCL, Grant Museum of Zoology / Richard Weedon
A photo of a flea-like creature with eight tentacles assembled microscopically on a slide
A slice through a tortoise mite© UCL, Grant Museum of Zoology / Richard Weedon
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