Spirit Collection

From lizards to giant squid, check out the creatures preserved in the glass jars of the zoology spirit building.

You can see the specimens every day on guided Spirit Collection Tours.

Spirit Collection Tour times

The Spirit Collection is on the ground floor of the Darwin Centre, near the Attenborough Studio.

With 22 million specimens, the Spirit Collection is named after the alcohol in which they are stored, a mixture of 95% ethanol and five% methanol.

This impressive collection includes approximately 170,000 type specimens, the specimens by which species are first named and described.

The specimens come from all around the world and have been collected over more than 200 years. Must-see treasures include a giant squid and specimens collected by Charles Darwin.

They are stored across 25,000 shelves measuring a total of 27 kilometres. It is possible for a single shelf to contain 100,000 specimens. The largest jars stand over a metre high and weigh more than 60kg. The smallest is 5cm high.

More about the Spirit Collection Tours