The Specimens

The Funnel-Web Spider: Love and Venom in an Acrylic Box

Sydney Funnel-Web Spider, Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL

The first gift my boyfriend gave me was a highly venomous spider. Originating from eastern Australia, and now mounted and on display at the Grant Museum of Zoology, the Sydney funnel-web spider produces a venom containing Robustoxin. This venom causes temperatures to rise, heart rates to increase, and difficulty in breathing. For my birthday, he [...]

Submitted by: Eleanor Morgan | Leave a comment

Kiki Smith, Hand in Jar, 1983

Kiki Smith: Hand in Jar, 1983

Kiki Smith’s work Hand in Jar (1983) could be described as a contemporary reliquary discoloured by shadows of algae. The hand floats in murky green waters that distort and disfigure its shape, the refraction of light bending and blowing up its contours. The invasion of the growing natural organisms is an invasive reminder of the [...]

Submitted by: Izzy Elstob | Leave a comment

The Kaplani in the Window. A Taxidermy Mount at the Natural History Museum of the Aegean

Kaplani, Natural History Museum of the Aegean

On the Greek Island of Samos, a place famous since antiquity for its fossils, at the town of Mytilliní, is situated the Natural History Museum of the Aegean (NHMA), built by wealthy local enthusiasts of natural history, Constantine and Maria Zimalis. In 2008 I found myself there with my family [...]

Submitted by: Robert Williams | Leave a comment

Grizzly Bear Chair, 1865

Seth Kinman: The Grizzly Bear Chair, 1865

‘It is very strange, and very melancholic, that the paucity of human pleasures should persuade us ever to call hunting one of them’, said the Good Doctor, the late Samuel Johnson – and, really, why should we find pleasure in killing animals? However, the continuous and widespread use of trophies indicates that hunting still is [...]

Submitted by: Sebastian Hackenschmidt | Leave a comment

Grandma Carolyn’s Carp

Grandma Carolyn’s Carp

Safe within the confines of its glass house, my Grandmother’s carp held council over her pine-paneled living room, gazing outward from the fireplace mantle where it floated in a thick musk of wood fire and cigarettes. Relatives uncomfortably recall the prior home of the fish, perched intimately on the back of the bathroom toilet. My [...]

Submitted by: Madeline Courtney | Leave a comment