Darwin Centre science

The Darwin Centre is a hub of scientific activity and home to over 220 scientists working on vital research and looking after 17 million insect and 3 million plant specimens.

The millions of specimens looked after in the Darwin Centre and its Cocoon building are vital to our research in areas like fighting malaria and climate change.

Hundreds of staff and visitors from around the world use the cocoon facilities and collections for research and analysis. From fieldwork to laboratory work in the Darwin Centre workspaces, our scientists push the boundaries of knowledge and scientific progress.

Scientists in action

On the Cocoon tour, you can encounter scientists at work in open-plan workspaces using high-tech equipment. Learn how they name new species and prepare specimens used in research.

  • Decoding DNA - look into state-of-the art laboratories where scientists extract, process, sequence and analyse the DNA of plants and insects.
  • Preparing specimens – a microphone in the dedicated Specimen Preparation Area (SPA) lets you talk to scientists about their day's work, like pressing plants collected from the streets of London or sorting through beetles fresh from tropical jungles.
  • Looking closer – watch scientific staff in the Sackler Biodiversity Imaging Laboratory work with HerbScan machines to create high quality images of dried plants. Get up close to beautiful microscopic plants and animals through interactive installations.

The science of nature

The Darwin Centre expands the Museum’s role as a world leader in science research and communication.

As many as 90 per cent of the world’s species are yet to be named and classified. Naming and identifying organisms and investigating relationships between them are vital to our understanding of the natural world and a major area of our research.Learn more about our scientific research

Learning about science

Interact with our scientists while they work on specimens and research date in the Darwin Centre. There are many exciting learning activities and events for schools and the public.Our science learning activities

  • Specimens in the Darwin Centre

    The Darwin Centre Cocoon building houses some of the world's most historic and important specimens.

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