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The Zoological Museum History

Regent House

The Zoological Museum has a long and proud tradition. From humble beginnings around 250 years ago, the collection gradually expanded to become one of the most important teaching museums of the period. The colourful history of the museum since its formation in 1777, is paralleled throughout the years by the endeavours and commitment of its various directors and curators. Of these, by far the most influential was Robert Ball (1844-1857) who on appointment, donated his private collection, and was largely responsible for amassing most of the material by benefaction, purchase and through personal contacts.

Zoo dept front door

At its peak, the significance and importance of the museum in college life was reflected in the erection of a purpose built building in 1876, specifically designed to house the collection. Today, little remains of the original interior of the building. Years of renovation and modification have taken their toll both on the structure of the building itself and on the museum collection. As a result, the museum is now confined to a relatively small area on the first floor.

However, despite over two centuries of disruption and change, much of the collection remains intact and provides a vital undergraduate teaching resource for the Department of Zoology. With generous financial support from our friends and alumni, the museum has undergone major refurbishment and it now represents a unique and popular resource for staff, students and visitors.