Primate skeletons grin from within glass cases. Splayed amphibians and tiny invertebrates line the shelves, suspended in formaldehyde. Oddly-labelled molluscs and cold-blooded reptiles join them, locked in airtight boxes. Fossils fill chests of draws, while a cross-sectioned dolphin sits on the windowsill. Nowhere in Sheffield is so packed with curiosities of nature as The Alfred Denny Museum.
Sheffield's natural history museum was named after the University of Sheffield's first professor of zoology, and is today housed within the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences. Its history dates back to 1905. Back then, and for many years to come, this little museum was kept a secret from the general public, visited only for research purposes by the uni's staff and students. The doors opened to anyone and everyone for the first time in 2012, during Festival of the Mind. And its collection of preserved animals has been filling our minds with awe and wonder ever since.
After over two years of closure, the Alfred Denny reopens to the public on Saturday 23 July 2022. Take your pick from the three time slots (10am, 11am and 12pm) and book your free place in advance – space is limited. Visits begin with a short guided tour and then you're free to acquaint yourself with the museum's creatures – from the cute (hey there, red slender loris; hi, axolotl!) to the creepy (flying fox skeleton, sorry but we're looking at you), with a few unfortunately named species between (poor boring clams).
Come back soon for details of the museum's next opening dates.
Keep an eye out for the occasional talk from the museum's curators too.