The Museum of Zoology in Cambridge is set to reopen its doors after a revamp

PUBLISHED: 19:30 22 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:24 24 January 2018

Museum of Zoology prepares for reopening, from left Anastasia van Gaver, Imogen Cavadino, and Sam Bainbridge with a Diprotodon. Picture: Keith Heppell

Museum of Zoology prepares for reopening, from left Anastasia van Gaver, Imogen Cavadino, and Sam Bainbridge with a Diprotodon. Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

The fascinating specimens on display at the Cambridge University Museum of Zoology will become an even greater draw following an extensive redevelopment.

Natalie Jones holding the head of a female gorilla. Picture: Keith HeppellNatalie Jones holding the head of a female gorilla. Picture: Keith Heppell

With items in their millions housed at its Downing Street site, the museum – which celebrates the rich diversity of the animal kingdom – closed in summer 2013 for a £4.1million refit.

The Cambridge Independent was granted a sneak preview behind the scenes at the museum, which was awarded £1.8million towards the refurbishment by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The museum will host a ‘soft’ launch on March 27 and will then continue to complete the installation of the upper gallery before it opens fully at the end of June.

The new glass entrance hall housing the museum’s largest specimen, the 70ft-long fin whale, is already open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays only from noon to 4pm.

Sam Bainbridge working on a nine-banded armadillo. Picture: Keith HeppellSam Bainbridge working on a nine-banded armadillo. Picture: Keith Heppell

This is for visitors to have a peek at the whale ahead of the opening.

Other artefacts on show include objects collected by Charles Darwin and his contemporary, Alfred Russel Wallace.

Patricia Harnett, marketing assistant at the museum, told the Cambridge Independent that she’s been very impressed with the work done so far.

“It’s amazing,” she enthused. “We’ve got over three to four million items within the museum, and visitors will see several thousand on display.

The famous whale skeleton. Picture: Keith HeppellThe famous whale skeleton. Picture: Keith Heppell

“The history behind the items and the stories of the collectors are incredible.”

The museum is part of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and is one of the leading international research centres for the subject.

Patricia said: “One of the major things we’ve built is this huge glass entrance hall, which houses the fin whale that we have – which is a 150-year-old skeleton.

“It hangs in the entrance, so as you walk into the museum you walk under the skeleton – it used to be hanging outside.”

Patricia added: “Also in the entrance hall, there’s going to be a shop and a winding spiral staircase leading up to a restaurant. You’ll be able to sit and have something to eat and drink and overlook this amazing skeleton.”

museum.zoo.cam.ac.uk

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