The Cole Museum of Zoology

coleThe Museum was established in the early 20th century by Francis J. Cole, Professor of Zoology from 1907 to 1939. The Collection was originally housed at the London Road campus until the early 1970s when it was transported to its present location at Whiteknights.

The Cole Museum of Zoology contains some 3500 specimens of which about 400 are on display at any one time. Specimens are arranged in taxonomic sequence enabling a complete tour of the diversity of the Animal Kingdom to be completed in less than one hour.

Highlights of the Collection include complete skeletons of a male Indian Elephant, a False Killer Whale, a five metre Reticulated Python, and a pair of Giant Spider Crabs.

In 2003, the Museum underwent an extensive refurbishment program funded by the University of Reading Teaching and Learning Development Fund, and a grant from the Arts & Humanities Research Board (AHRC). A second grant from the AHRC in 2007 funded a conservation project that focussed on specimens preserved in fluid.

The Cole Museum is now the proud owner of a fossil Ichthyosaur, a marine reptile from the Jurassic period. This specimen is wonderfully preserved. It is thought to have been uncovered in a German quarry early in the 20th century.

When you walk through the entrance of the Cole Museum you are greeted by the skeleton of our male Indian Elephant with his prominent tusks. An ex-circus performer from 19th century Liverpool, this specimen was acquired by Professor Cole for the Museum collection in 1921.

With hundreds of specimens of great zoological significance, the Cole Museum of Zoology demonstrates the rich diversity of the Animal Kingdom. The Museum begins with the simplest of life forms and ends with the most intelligent, the Primates.

The Cole Museum of Zoology is situated in the foyer of the Biological Sciences (AMS) building on the Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading.

Visiting the Museum

From the M4 (J11) follow the signs for the University (UoR). From central Reading follow signs for the A327 to Aldershot. The main entrance is on the A327 (Shinfield Road). Enter the campus along Queen’s Drive. Continue past the sports grounds, take the first left then left at the mini roundabout and park in any of the car parks on the left. There are disabled parking spaces in both car parks.

Telephone: 0118 378 7083



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