To mark our selection as a Finalist in the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2015 we’re embarking on a unique and ambitious tour of the country – the Dodo Roadshow.
Beginning at Land’s End on 8 June and concluding in John O’Groats one week later, the famous Oxford Dodo will visit more than 20 museums and galleries along the way. At each stop the Dodo will ‘interview’ one of the venue’s star objects.
The Hunterian: Giant Irish Deer
So, tell me about yourself – who are you and where do you come from?
I am a giant Irish deer – they call me Megaloceros giganteus these days. I was found in a peat bog in Ireland, in Limerick I think, but I believe I had lots of relatives across Europe. I have been dead a long time! I was dug out of the bog more than 250 years ago.
What is it that makes you so special?
A Scottish doctor called William Hunter acquired me in the 18th century. He was interested in lots of things apart from medicine and he wanted to know more about moose or elk and me. He made a study of us all and even had the famous George Stubbs make a painting of the moose to help his study!
Who looks after you in this place?
I am looked after by two people – Neil Clark, the Curator of Palaeontology and Maggie Reilly the Curator of Zoology. That probably reflects the fact I have trotted between Zoology and Palaeontology displays over the years! I am a recent extinction after all (geologically speaking that is), though not as recent as you!
Do you remember life before the museum?
I don’t remember very long ago when I was alive, but like you I have been around a bit – after leaving Ireland, I lived in London for a while, then I was taken to Glasgow on a barge and then I was in the first Hunterian Museum down in the middle of Glasgow. Now, after a few years in the Zoology Museum, I am a big star in the main Hunterian Museum. I have some friends with me now – the moose antlers. We sorted out the puzzle that William was interested in that I mentioned above.
What does the future hold for you?
I think I am probably going to still be on show to the public, though in the future there may be new Hunterian displays in a different building where even more people will be able to come and see me. I have been measured and studied in the past but as you say the scientists may have new things they want to learn so they know where to find me!