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The Museum of Ordinary Animals: The boring beasts that changed the world

10 October 2017

The Museum of Ordinary Animals exhibition logo

Institute researchers have contributed to a new exhibition at the Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL which has recently opened to the public.

The Museum of Ordinary Animals tells the story of the boring beasts that have changed the world: the mundane creatures in our everyday lives including dogs, pigeons, cats, cows, chickens and mice. These animals are rarely represented in natural history museum displays. They are not special enough. People would rather see dinosaurs, dodos and giant whales.

However, this exhibition puts these everyday species front and centre. It investigates some of the profound impacts they have had on humanity and the natural world, where they came from, and the extraordinary things we have learned from them.

We have invited them into our homes as pets; their role in our diets has changed us biologically; they are critical to modern medicine and they hold huge symbolic value in many cultures. The success or failure of civilisations has depended on their Ordinary Animals.

With objects from the world of archaeology, art, zoology and the history of science, the exhibition features stories from cutting-edge research taking place at UCL in order to investigate these themes.

Exhibits, including objects from the Institute's collections, comprise a wall of 4000 mice skeletons, Egyptian cat mummies, and what may be the world’s oldest veterinary text.

The exhibition opened on 21 September and runs until 22 December 2017.

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