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Unnatural history museums

Jack Ashby will explore the biases that can be detected in how people talk about animals, in ways which aren't apolitical or entirely scientific.

UCL Grant Museum of Zoology/Fred Langford Edwards

Event description

Natural history museums are magical places, but they are places for people, made by people. Jack Ashby will explore the quirks and biases we might spot in how museums talk about animals, in ways that can reflect politics as much as science. To what extent do they realistically represent nature? 

About the speaker

Jack's childhood enthusiasm for natural history led him to study for a Natural Sciences (Zoology) degree at the University of Cambridge, with a large amount of his teaching taking place here in the Museum. After graduating in 2003, he started his career in Science Communication at the hands-on science centre At-Bristol, running workshops in the Learning Department.

Jack is currently the Manager of the University Museum of Zoology. Before his current role, he was at the Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London in 2004 as the Learning and Access Manager, using the Museum’s specimens to establish a Learning and Access Programme. His role there began with the task of developing the museum spaces and services to be accessible to non-academic audiences for the first time, including schools, families and adults, as well as strengthening our ties with UCL Departments. He became Museum Manager there in 2011, and oversaw the development of the Museum into one of London's leading venues for engagement with the life sciences, curating several successful exhibitions at the interface of natural history, art and art history.

He is a trustee of the Natural Sciences Collections Association and a Councillor of the Society for the History of Natural History.


The doors will open at approximately 6.30pm, with a prompt start at 7.00pm.

Latecomers will be admitted to the gallery.

Book signing

Copies of Jack's book, 'Animal Kingdon: A natural history in 100 objects', will be available for purchase and signing after the event. 


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email:

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Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop.