Press Releases

Cole Museum of Zoology opens its doors – University of Reading

Release Date : 04 March 2004

Rare chance to see the whole animal kingdom in an hour MEDIA OPPORTUNITY: The Cole Museum of Zoology opens its doors to the local community LOCATION: Foyer of Animal and Microbial Sciences building at University of Reading Whiteknights campus TIME & DATE: Wednesday 17 March at 6pm The Cole Museum of Zoology, featuring more than 3,500 unique and exciting specimens, is being opened at the University of Reading after a yearlong redevelopment project. Funded by a £25,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board, the refurbished museum will provide a contemporary, natural history learning resource for schools and students and an attractive, up to date display for the enjoyment of the general public. To mark the launch of the Cole Museum of Zoology, the University is holding a special event during National Science Week. On March 17 2004, the display will be unveiled to both the media and interest groups including current and past personnel of the University of Reading. Professor Phil Rainbow, Head of Zoology at the Natural History Museum in London will perform the official opening and reveal some exciting new acquisitions. Guests will have the opportunity to take part in a museum tour led by the new Curator of the museum, Dr Steve Hopkin. "We are extremely excited about the launch of the new displays at the Cole Museum of Zoology," said Dr Hopkin. "What makes our museum special is its size. It provides a truly rare opportunity to see a complete and well preserved natural history collection in little more than an hour and will provide inspiration, accessibility and learning across all ages and sectors." The Cole collection was put together during the first half of the 20th century and contains over 3500 unique and important specimens from across the Animal Kingdom, many of which have been hidden away from public view until now. Highlights include: • The skeleton of a male Indian Elephant that once belonged to a circus • A fossil replica of the largest spider that ever lived • A Python skeleton with over 400 vertebrae and more than 5 metres in length • Some of the largest Spider Crab specimens in the world • A False Killer Whale, originally owned by the Natural History Museum in London • A Newly Acquired marine reptile Ichthyosaur fossil from the Jurassic The Cole Museum of Zoology is open Monday to Friday from 9am until 4.30pm excluding public holidays. For further information contact the Cole Museum on 0118 378 7024, email: or visit our website at Leaflets containing further details can be found at local tourist information points. End About the Cole Museum of Zoology The Cole Museum of Zoology is situated in the foyer of the Animal & Microbial Sciences (AMS) Building on the Whiteknights campus, University of Reading. It is home to a collection of more than 3500 specimens from the animal kingdom, acquired from all over the world during the first half of the 20th century and unique in that nowhere else in the UK is there a single location where the diversity of the Animal Kingdom can be appreciated in such an intimate space. The collection was initiated by Professor Francis Joseph Cole soon after his arrival at the University in 1906 and by 1940 the collection was largely complete. Alongside the museum is an equally impressive collection of books on the subject of comparative anatomy (the study of the differences between animals) including many first editions purchased by Cole from his own finances. The Cole Museum forms part of the University museums and collections of the University of Reading, including the Museum of English Rural Life and the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology. For further information on access and services visit or FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, INCLUDING PHOTOGRAPHS, A MEDIA Q&A, MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE SPECIMENS AND A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF DR STEVE HOPKIN, please contact Craig Hillsley, University Press Officer, on 0118 378 7388 or by email: Alternatively, contact Dr Steve Hopkin on 0118 378 6409.


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