Skip to page content

Sloane and the Museum

Sir Hans Sloane is a very important person in the Museum's history.

When he returned from Jamaica, with his 800 or so plants and lots of other specimens, drawings and notes, it was the start of an extraordinary collection.

Portrait painting of Sir Hans Sloane, held at the Natural History Museum.

80,000 objects

By the time Sloane died at the age of 90, his house was like a private museum, stuffed with things from floor to ceiling. He had more than 80,000 objects, books, drawings and maps, as well as precious antiques and curiosities from all over the world. He left it all to the nation in his will, provided the government gave his heirs £20,000.

Museum creation

That’s how the British Museum began, in 1753. The natural history collections grew and grew, but became badly over-crowded and not well looked after. The Natural History Museum was built to give them a new home, in 1881.

Sadly, few of Sloane’s natural history specimens survived. People didn’t know how to look after them properly in the nineteenth century. But, amazingly, his Jamaican plant collections did. We now keep them safely in a climate-controlled room.

Search Roots and Herbs
Select a plant