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Technology Intervention #7 – The Gant Museum of Zoology, NLA and Bleecker Burger

I started my 7th Friday sans-laptop by taking a trip down to Canary Wharf. It’s a weird old place, Canary Wharf – a lot of offices and not a lot of homes. If you’ve ever been there at the weekend, it’s pretty much a ghost town. But at lunchtime during the week, it’s pretty busy. And therefore a sensible place to set up a food stall.

Which, I suppose, is why Kerb is there. And, by extension, the reason all the food sellers at Kerb are pushing their wares. Anyway, I figure I’d head there to try a Bleecker Burger. With a ton of great reviews, I figured I’d give it a go.

Bleecker Burger

To cut a long story short, after queuing for probably 30 minutes to get a ticket for a burger, I waited for probably 20 more minutes to get the actual burger. It was not worth the wait. The patty was pretty good, but, well – what’s the fuss about? Meat aside, the ‘build’ was very average, and the wait just made it well… meh. As always, I’ll probably get it up on CheeseburgerBoy at some point.

After the long wait (and short eat), I hoped on a tube up to Goodge Street and headed to the Gant Museum of Zoology.

The Gant Museum of Zoology is a short walk from the station (in fact a short walk from a bunch of tube stations) and is part of UCL. It’s not a massive place, but claims to house 67,000 specimens. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Gant Museum of Zoology

I suppose you could compare it, at a push, to the Hunterian. There’s a lot of stuff in jars. Thankfully though, it’s nowhere near as grizzly, and everything in a jar is an animal (as opposed to a severed body part). But in amongst all the jars, there’s also a bunch of skeletons, skulls and other animal related, um… parts…

Perhaps the best thing about the Gant was the people working there. From what I gather, UCL students look after the place, talking to those that are looking around. I have no idea whether it was because it was half term, or whether it’s like that normally, but there was a bunch of students there. Which was nice, because there was also a bunch of kids there… And little old me, of course.

After taking a good gander, it was lovely to stand and listen to what they were saying. After learning a little bit about some of the skulls on the table in the middle, a girl told us some amazing facts about crocodiles. Well, to be precise, the four animals that make up the crocodilians – crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials. The jaws are heavy (I know, I lifted the skull!) and it’s hard for them to open them. So much so, the jaw can be held closed with a bit of string or some duct tape (doesn’t that shit fix *everything*?! Also, haha…). But maybe the best thing I learned – if you’re getting eaten by one of them – they have bit of skin in the back of their throat that prevents water going down. Reach back and push it. As the water rushes back and in, they’ll spit you out… Life saving advice. You read it here, paying forward etc…

Anyway there’s some other cool bits. They have a walrus penis bone (delightfully childish, it’s not a competition, etc)…

Walrus Cock

…a jar of moles…

Mole

….a lit and mirrored Micrarium (there’s me! oh hai!)…

Um, wow...

…and some other interesting bits. Like a tiger skeleton and some elephant skulls – which are *massive*. Plus, who doesn’t love an elephant shrew?

Elephant Shrew

Or a loris with it’s guts hanging out?!

Gutsy Loris...

Aside from being one of the only places I’ve ever been that’s using QR codes extensively (*I* still think they’re a good idea), I LOVE the fact you can sponsor any exhibit for £15 a year – I think that’s a great idea. For the (really rather tiny amount of) money your name gets placed next to the item. What a brilliant thing to do for a kid! The Gant Museum of Zoology is open Monday to Saturday, 1 – 5pm. Go visit! It’d be a great stop if you have kids.

After leaving the museum, I took a short walk around the corner to NLA. Or the NLA? I’m not actually sure how it should be phrased, but NLA stands for New London Architecture. The building features some architecture exhibitions (such as stuff being being built and developed in London, obviously) and, brilliantly, a scale model of London. As far as I’m aware, the scale model is a permanent fixture.

London!

The model itself is a 1:1500 scale version of London. It represents 12 miles from east to west. It’s pretty incredible to see the city at that scale from above. By pretty incredible – I mean I felt I was some kind of Kaiju and had an overwhelming urge to stomp all over it. But I didn’t. I’d still like to. Hell, I’m imagining how awesome it would be right now… Raaaah!

As far as stuff to see in London goes, if you have spare half an hour, this is a definite stop in. I probably spent an hour or so reading all the stuff on the walls (and looking at the other exhibitions) – but the model (which apparently took 9 months to build) is really the thing to see, it’s quite incredible.

I’m not sure I can tell you much more about the place, other than it’s open every day apart from Sunday and you should get in before 5pm. It’s probably not for everyone – I’m sure it helps that I’m a massive Grand Designs fan (isn’t Kevin McCloud so avuncular?!) – but I don’t think anyone would fail to be impressed by the London model. Go have a look.

Catch you next week.

1 Comment

  1. Allan Timbrell

    Great blog Ben. Will keep those places in mind for visit when next in the smoke,I’m not sure about your mum though???

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