Restoring Redpath to greatness

Anthony Howell
Anthony Howell, Curatorial Technician, organizes specimens for use in the Hylcan lab.

Everyone who’s been to McGill knows the venerable Redpath Museum, not only for its pride of place on the downtown campus, but for its fantastic natural history collection. Built in 1882, it’s one of the oldest museums in Canada and a unique interdisciplinary unit within the Faculty of Science.

The museum has attracted many supporters over the years, including Duncan M. Hodgson, a philanthropist who also helped found the Montreal Neurological Institute. Hodgson originally donated the museum’s gorilla, as well as other species, from the 1930s McGill Congo Expedition. The black-maned lion, which came from an expedition to Tanganyika in the 1950s, was likewise donated by the philanthropist; he is also remembered in the Hodgson Gallery and Seminar Room.

But it was through the Hylcan Foundation, established by Hodgson to honour his wife Hylda and now run by his descendants, that the museum has received a much-needed renovation in recent years. A generous gift from the Foundation to Campaign McGill was used to completely revamp the museum’s Teaching Lab, updating everything from floor to ceiling and installing the latest audiovisual equipment in order to restore the facility’s former glory.

“Renovation of the Redpath Museum Teaching Lab has had a significant positive impact on our undergraduate teaching and museum research group,” says Associate Professor Hans Larsson, BSc’94, a paleontologist associated with the museum.

“The space is intensely used by about 250 students per year. Each course has a lab component that necessarily requires a high quality teaching lab space for dissections, microscopy, and computer displayed images. The quality of this space has translated to a novel level of museum staff and student cohesiveness.”