Bequests and presentations

Library collections are enhanced by a number of important donations, including the vast collection of Sir Walter Rothschild.

1887    Arthur Hay

Hay's fantastic collection of 2,560 ornithological volumes, many of them rare, was donated to the Museum by his nephew. The volumes were originally collected as part of Hay’s publication describing new bird species from the Indian subcontinent.

1901    Thomas de Grey, 6th Baron Walsingham  

Thomas de Grey bequeathed his collection of 200,000 micro-lepidoptera specimens and his books to the Museum.

1908    Charles Davies Sherborn 

Sherborn presented the Library with a collection of 8,000 letters and other documents from naturalists. These have proved invaluable in identifying the handwriting on collectors’ labels.

1937    Lionel Walter, 2nd Baron Rothschild 

Rothschild donated his vast zoology collection at Tring, Hertfordshire to the Museum. Not only did his museum contain the largest collection of animals ever assembled by one man, but it also included a working library of nearly 300,000 bound books relating to ornithology and entomology. The library has been maintained and is kept up to date.

Menelaus blue morpho
Library collections

Explore books, maps, artworks, manuscripts, periodicals and photographs.