The Unnatural Nature of Natural History Museums

Talk by Jack Ashby, Manager, Grant Museum of Zoology, University College London

Natural history museums are magical places. They inspire awe and wonder in the natural world and help us understand our place within the animal kingdom.

But they are places for people, made by people. We might like to consider them logical places, but if we look close enough we can detect biases in the decisions for which animals are selected for display

Museums are a product of their own history, and that of the societies they are embedded in. They are not apolitical, and they are not entirely scientific. As such, they don’t really represent reality.

The event will be hosted by Dr Alice Stevenson, Senior Lecturer in Museum Studies, UCL Institute of Archaeology, University College London


About the speaker

Author and zoologist Jack Ashby is the Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London. He is a trustee of the Natural Sciences Collections Association and the Society for the History of Natural History, and regularly writes and comments about the roles of natural history museums in science and society. His new book Animal Kingdom: A Natural History in 100 Objects explores the striking diversity of animal life and delves into some of the most exciting mechanisms in evolution, while shedding a light on life behind the scenes in museums. His main zoological interest is in Australian mammals.

Attending this event

  • Venue: Huxley Lecture Theatre and Bartlett Suite at ZSL London Zoo, Outer Circle, London, NW1 4RY
  • Tickets: This event free to attend but pre-booking is essential.


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