History of the Collection

coleFrancis Joseph Cole was appointed to ‘University College Reading’ in 1906 and was soon promoted to the position of Professor of Zoology. A passionate and creative collector of animal specimens he soon set to work on a museum collection using a variety of imaginative means. He encouraged donations from overseas visitors and even asked students to bring back exciting finds from their research projects and holidays all over the world.

In 1939 the prestigious journal Nature recognised the collection as ‘being without a rival’ among its contemporaries of the day. Nowadays, somewhat rarely, the Cole collection remains intact, retaining its status as one of the most important and complete UK museums of comparative anatomy - the study of differences between animals.

Professor Cole was not only an enthusiastic gatherer of animal specimens, he also had a fondness for medical and zoological books. Complementing the Museum is a precious of first editions and rare volumes. This is currently housed within the  at the Museum of English Rural Life. The library may be viewed by appointment.

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