Reconstructing Sloane

Reconstructing Sloane is a long-term collaborative research project with the British Museum and the British Library which aims to reconnect the now dispersed parts of the eighteenth-century physician Sir Hans Sloane’s collection, and enable people to gain an insight into this extraordinary collector’s world.

From the time of his voyage to Jamaica in the 1680s, Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) began to gather together one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of ‘natural and artificial rarities’ ever formed. Sloane went on to become physician to Queen Anne, George I, and George II; President of both the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society; and his manor in Chelsea included the Apothecaries’ Garden (now the Chelsea Physic Garden). These circumstances placed him at the centre of a worldwide network of natural philosophers and collectors.  In his pursuit to form an encyclopaedic collection, Sloane acquired mineral, botanical, and zoological specimens from around the world, as well as ethnographic objects, antiquities, prints, drawings, books and manuscripts, often inheriting or purchasing entire collections formed by others.

On his death in 1753 Sloane’s collection was acquired for the nation by an Act of Parliament which created the British Museum. However parts of Sloane’s collection were dispersed to the Natural History Museum and the British Library in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  The dispersal of Sloane’s collections across different institutions and departments has hindered the study and understanding of them, their sources, and their historical relationships with each other.

Now, with the ground-breaking Reconstructing Sloane project, these three institutions will recover these objects’ history by digitising, researching and ultimately reconnecting the disparate parts of Sloane’s collection.

Please keep an eye on this website for news of project developments. 

  • A pharmacopoeia drawer dating back to before 1753 from the Sir Hans Sloane collection
    Sloane's Treasures

    Sloane's Treasures is a major 'Science in Culture' project, formed in collaboration with the British Museum and British Library.

Get involved

Do you have a research idea connected to Sloane or have you been working on a Sloane-related project? Please contact:

Julie Harvey BSc, DipLib, FRES
Head, Centre for Arts and Humanities Research
Tel: 020 7942 5241   
E mail

More information

Collaborators