The Museum has more than 80 million specimens, ranging in size from microbes to whales.
The majority of the Museum's collections are based at South Kensington and Wandsworth in London, while the Natural History Museum at Tring in Hertfordshire is home to the world-class research and collections of the Museum's Bird Group.
For information on visiting the collections or borrowing specimens, please see the Accessing the collections section.
To allow efficient retrieval, the collection is arranged in systematic order where possible. The material is preserved in diverse ways, including:
The Museum's collections management objectives are to:
Collecting is mainly done through fieldwork relating to active research programmes and consultancy contracts. These activities contribute specimens to almost the whole range of the department’s collections and result in a more focused range of material than previously added.
Material seized by HM Revenue and Customs provides another source for the collections. Although not all such material 0D90 is appropriate for the collections, there is enough to warrant the development of more formal links with HM Revenue and Customs. The use of new non-destructive sampling - photography and forensic sampling - may be relevant in supporting such efforts.
The collections are enhanced by the acquisition of significant donations from institutions and individuals.
The Museum acts as a custodian of its collections for the nation and the international scientific community. This is great responsibility and staff must carefully consider any item before it is accepted for the collection. We normally only acquire material that has a provenance - full details of where and when it was collected.
If you are considering bequesting material to the Museum, please contact us so that we can help assess your generous offer, as we cannot accept gifts automatically. Please do not send or bring specimens to the Museum without an appointment.
When a specimen is accepted we have to go through the formal process to change its ownership. Before accepting material we will ask you to complete a Transfer of Title form to show that the material was legally acquired and can be passed to us in line with wildlife laws.
If you require Museum registration numbers to be released for publication before sending us the material we will normally send you the numbers on a 'loan' receipt form to help us keep track of the material.
Part 6 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 provides immunity from seizure for cultural objects which are loaned from overseas to temporary public exhibitions in approved museums or galleries in the UK where conditions are met when the object enters the UK.
The conditions are:
For further information, please refer directly to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 or the DCMS
Provenance information has been published, requesting immunity from seizure for objects in the following exhibitions:
No cover currently required.
For further information please contact
The Natural History Museum