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Tour of the recently re-opened University Museum of Zoology and an insider's guide to natural history museums

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Laura Brassington.

Meet outside the Whale Hall (main entrance of the Museum of Zoology) by 1pm

The Cabinet of Natural History is invited to a private, guided tour of the recently re-opened University Museum of Zoology, led by myself, the Museum Manager. As well as sharing stories from the history of the museum and highlights from its world-leading collection, the session will explore some of the insights used to develop a critical eye for visiting natural history galleries elsewhere. By using examples from the Museum, I will discuss the relationship between how natural history museums aim (successfully) to inspire wonder in the natural world, and the extent to which museums accurately represent nature in their displays.

Exhibits will range from dodos to whales, as well as giant wombat-relatives and four-tonne sloths. I will discuss the research of the Museum and seek to answer questions, such as the extent to which specimens in natural history museums are authentic and represent the species they are intended to exemplify and what kinds of human biases have been introduced and why. I will argue that museums are a product of their own history and the societies in which they are embedded.

Museums are not apolitical or value-free: if we know what to look for, we might spot evidence of speciesism, the patriarchy and colonialism when we next visit a museum gallery.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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