Collectors and scientists

The Museum collections are built on the efforts of natural historians, many of whom dedicated their lives to the pursuit of scientific knowledge.

Some worked from the comfort of their study room, while others ventured into the field at home and abroad. 

Their personal accounts of scientific observation and discovery complement our vast specimen collections, and give an insight into what it was like to pioneer new scientific theories.

  • Fratercula artica, Atlantic puffin
    Meet the collectors

    Find out more about the naturalists represented in our Library collections. 

  • Cebus capucinus, white-faced capuchin
    Introducing taxonomy

    The system of formal organisation for the natural world developed by Carl Linnaeus.

  • Natural History Museum doorway
    A cathedral to nature

    Richard Owen's fight to build a dedicated natural history museum in South Kensington.

  • Workers at Piltdown Gravel Pit
    Forgeries and science

    The case of the Piltdown Man, a hoax that fooled the scientific community for forty years.

Menelaus blue morpho
Library collections

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