3E08 Collections | Natural History Museum


A tray of Plebejus argus silver-studded blue butterflies.

A tray of Plebejus argus (silver-studded blue butterflies), digitised as part of a pilot project in advance of the mass digitisation of the Museum’s collections

The Museum’s 80 million specimens form the world’s most important natural history collection.

The scientific community is using the collection to answer key questions about the past, present and future of the solar system, the geology of our planet and life on Earth.


Botany collections

Explore our botanical collection of an estimated six million specimens of bryophytes, ferns, seed plants and slime moulds from around the world, along with large collections of algae, lichens and diatoms.

Entomology collections

Browse the oldest and most important entomology collection in the world of over 34 million insects and arachnids. Gathered over 300 years, these specimens are key to telling the history of collecting, the science of taxonomy and the human desire to understand the natural world.

Zoology collections

Find out how our zoology collection can help your research. The collection of 29 million animal specimens, gathered over 250 years from around the world, is rich in voucher, type and historical specimens as well as extinct and endangered species.

Palaeontology collections

Discover the geographic, stratigraphic and historical coverage of the seven million vertebrate, invertebrate and plant fossils in our palaeontology collection that make it globally important.

Mineralogy collections

Explore one of the world's finest collections of 500,000 rocks, gems and minerals, including 5,000 meteorites, and find out how you can use it as a resource for economic geology and scientific research.

Library and Archive collections

Discover hidden treasures from the Library and Archives, from artworks and acquisitions to historical highlights. The collection contains more than 1.5 million books, manuscripts and artworks used for scientific, historical and humanities research.

Digitising the collections

We are digitising 20 million specimens with over the next five years and giving everyone access to the records through our Data Portal.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections. We are constantly improving our conservation techniques. 

Accessing the collections

Scientists, artists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.