Privacy notice

How we use your information

This privacy notice tells you who we are and what to expect when the Natural History Museum collects your personal information. It is intended for visitors, customers, supporters and anyone who has a relationship with the Museum, whether or not they use the Museum's website and other digital channels.  

The notice provides information on:

  • who we are
  • how we use your information
  • cookies and tracking
  • Wi-Fi service
  • conditions under which we use your information
  • visitor and customer analytics and prospect research
  • who we share information with
  • transfers of data abroad
  • how long we keep your information
  • your rights
  • access to personal information and correction
  • consent and your right to opt out
  • complaints, enquiries and feedback
  • how to contact us
  • changes to this privacy notice
  • useful links

This privacy notice does not cover links to external websites. We encourage you to read the privacy statements on the other websites you visit.

Who we are

The Natural History Museum exists to inspire a love of the natural world and unlock answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet. More than five million people visit the sites in South Kensington and Tring every year, and the website receives over 500,000 unique visitors a month. It is a world-leading science research centre, and through its unique collections and unrivalled expertise it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases and managing resource scarcity.

The Natural History Museum Trading Company (NHMTC) carries out the commercial activities of the Museum (eg events, retail and the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition). As a wholly owned subsidiary, NHMTC is subject to the Museum's policies and procedures.

In this privacy notice and in the data protection statements which you will see wherever we collect your personal information, 'the Natural History Museum', 'the Museum' and 'we' refer to the Natural History Museum and the Natural History Museum Trading Company.

The Museum is the data controller of your personal information.

How we use your information

When you give us your personal data we will explain specifically how we will use it in a fair processing statement with a link to this privacy notice. The main purposes for which we collect and process the details of customers, visitors, Members, service users, enquirers, donors and potential donors are to provide the service, goods or information that you have requested:

  • for administration purposes (eg to administer donations, and to keep a record of our relationship with you)
  • to further our charitable aims, including fundraising activities
  • to gather feedback
  • to enable the best possible supporter journey and experience

We may use your data to contact you by email (if you have given us your consent or are a business contact), post or phone with news and information about the Museum that we feel may be of interest to you as well as about our other special events, activities, products and services. We will not use your personal information in this way if you have opted out, unsubscribed or otherwise indicated that you do not wish to be contacted for such marketing purposes.

Cookies and tracking

When you visit www.nhm.ac.uk, nhmshop.co.uk, data.nhm.ac.uk or any of the Museum's websites, we collect standard internet log information and details of visitor behaviour patterns. We do this to find out, for example, the number of visitors to the various parts of the site, to compile statistical reports on website activity and to personalise our visitors' website experience. We also use similar technologies when sending marketing emails to understand which emails are being read and how customers interact with them.

Cookies are text files placed on your computer to collect this information. You can set your browser to not accept cookies and you can remove cookies from your browser. However, in a few cases some of our website features may not function as a result. You can read more about how we use cookies and how to disable them on our cookies page.

We use advertising cookies from third parties to allow us to assess the effectiveness of our adverts, and to optimise our digital advertising. These cookies can affect what you see on third party sites. Advertising cookies remember that you have visited a website and use that information to provide you with advertising which is tailored to your interests. This is often called online behavioural advertising (OBA) and is done by grouping together shared interests based upon web browsing history. 

It is important to note that at no time do we or our service providers attempt to identify you individually, nor do we create a profile of you, or the pages you have viewed, for the purposes of delivering advertising without given consent to email marketing, and in turn profiling for the purposes of delivering information that is relevant.

A guide to behavioural advertising and online privacy has been produced by the internet advertising industry.

For details on the third-party cookies we use, and how to disable them, see our Cookie Policy.

Wi-Fi service and other sensing systems

We operate a Wi-Fi system, counting systems and other sensing systems to detect movement within the Museum’s premises.

Free Wi-Fi access is available throughout the Museum via the network named 'NHM-Free-wifi' or 'NHM-Tring-Free-WiFi'. If you access the Museum's free Wi-Fi network, you will be asked to agree to the Museum's Wi-Fi terms and conditions of use, which explain how your data will be used.

If you do not use the free Wi-Fi network but have Wi-Fi enabled on your smartphone, tablet or another internet-enabled device, your device can still be detected by the Museum's Wi-Fi service.

We record anonymous data about the location and type of devices in the Museum that have Wi-Fi enabled and other sensing data, for security and so that we can monitor the flow of visitors around the Museum and improve our services.

We will not link the anonymous device data with any other personal data that identifies you individually without your express permission. If in the future we want to process your data in this way to offer you new services, we will ask you via a consent form before doing so.

Conditions under which we use your information

We follow the principles of fair and legal processing described in the General Data Protection Regulation. We will only process personal data under one of the available lawful conditions (legal bases) - for example, if:

a) you have consented to the use of your personal data for the specific purpose in question, such as for a particular type of marketing

b) we need to process your personal data in order to deliver a contracted service, such as when you buy a ticket for an event or become a Member

c) we are entitled or required by law to process personal data in a certain way, such as for fraud or crime prevention

d) we need to protect the vital interests of any person

e) we are required to process personal data in performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of our official authority , such as in the management of the collections, or using CCTV to protect the Museum and its visitors

f) the processing of personal data is within our legitimate interests, where we carry out activities that would not be considered to fall into the definition at (e) above, but are enabling the Museum to meet its objectives as laid out in legislation

This may include:

  • marketing, publicity and fundraising mailshots that do not require consent (eg postal or phone contact from Development and Communications staff or business to business communications)  
  • prospect research prior to first contact
  • due diligence research on potential donors
  • visitor and customer analytics
  • exercising or defending legal claims
  • correspondence

Visitor and customer analytics and prospect research

It is within the Museum's legitimate interests to hold and analyse your data to continue to improve our understanding of our target audiences and supporters. This is so we can provide world-class, transformative, visitor-focused experiences, customer service and educational engagement, and effective and appropriate supporter engagement. We are also looking at how we might in the future use the latest technologies to improve and personalise the services that we offer.

Visitor analytics data is collected on an anonymous basis wherever possible, or pseudonymised so that individuals cannot be readily identified. This includes monitoring visitor numbers and tracking movement of people and collections of individuals around the Museum. (For more information see sections on cookies and Wi-Fi.)

We carry out customer analytics to improve our understanding of our target audiences. We do this by analysing your commercial transactions (eg ticket and retail purchases) and activities (eg email interaction with the Museum, such as which emails you open and how often, use of Museum Wi-Fi including via cookies and similar technologies). This helps us target our marketing more efficiently, understand what topics you are interested in, and personalise and improve your experience if you have consented to receive marketing from us, by providing the most relevant and timely content.  

You can object to our carrying out this kind of activity for marketing purposes by using this form, and we will review our basis for doing so in your case. Please note that objecting to this activity will mean that you are automatically unsubscribed from marketing.

Supporter research

As a recognised charity we seek to maximise our income from fundraising in order to achieve ouraims and objectives. This support is vital in helping us continue our pioneering scientific research, education and conservation. In order to make our fundraising activities as effective as possible we therefore undertake supporter research in order to appropriately engage with high value donors.

Supporter researchinvolves building up a holistic summary of an individual, their interests, suitability and likelihood they will donate and is fundamental to the ability to generate income through fundraising. Therefore, we may collect personal information to research potential supporters that have been identified through publicly available sources, personal referrals, recommendations from existing supporters, through their existing involvement with the Museum and occasionally from fully contracted independent researchers who work with us when we do not have the in-house capacity required.

In addition to information that our supporters provide to us, we may use data collected from publicly available quantitative and qualitative information to assess an individual’s inclination to provide financial and non-financial support and their areas of philanthropic interest, to enable the formulation of an approach which the individual finds attractive.

This may include:

  • Financial information (including whether particular donations or funding appeals may be of interest)
  • philanthropy and other giving (including donations to other organisations)
  • other support (for example,details of volunteering roles)
  • career highlights and other life achievements
  • and information about areas of interest and extra-curricular activities.

We use targeted internet searches and may search the following websites where relevant in order to obtainand maintain the accuracy of the data listed above:

  • Archives from media outletsand archived press releases
  • company websites
  • Higher education institution websites
  • business-related resources including Companies House, One Source, BoardEx and Fame
  • Charity Commission and other internet sources for non-profits
  • LinkedIn, to check business details
  • public records databases
  • published rich lists.

We will not collect special category data without explicit consent from individuals, except in some specific instances, for example to record dietary or mobility requirements for attendance of an event.

We review this information using manual processes to gain a holistic understanding of potential supporters’ ability and willingness to make donations and also to determine which particular donations or funding appeals may be of interest to them.

This research helps us understand the background of the people who support us, and enables us to contact you in the most appropriate way, with the most relevant information. You can object to our carrying out this kind of activity for fundraising purposes by emailing devcomms@nhm.ac.uk, and we will review our basis for doing so in your case.

Our teams foster long term relationships with our existing and potential donors. However, we are committed to only keeping data on individuals with whom we have an active relationship. We therefore remove all non essential data captured if the existing or potential donor has not interacted with us in the previous three years, or if we no longer plan to engage with the individual as a supporter in the future. In specific situations approved on a case-by-case basis, we may occasionally decide to re-engage with these contacts should supporter research or the individual themselves offer strong evidence that they would be receptive to hearing from us and we determine after careful consideration that the processing is lawful and within the individual’s reasonable expectations.

We rely on legitimate interests as our lawful basis for processing data on our potential supporters. We have entered an ambitious period of change for the Museum, as we embark on our new strategy to 2031. Over the next decade, we will secure the future of our collection, deepen engagement with multiple audiences, and revolutionise the study of natural history. Supporter research enables us to deliver successful fundraising initiatives and unleash the Museum’s potential to help create a future where people and the planet thrive. 

Due diligence research

Properly screened and fully contracted independent professional researchers may carry out due diligence on individuals before we seek or accept major donationsto ensure compliance with legislation, financial rules, international agreements and guidance from statutory bodies and to protect us from reputational risk, as required. These legal and regulatory obligations mean that if you object to analysis of your data for the supporter research purposes detailed above, we may still conduct some due diligence research that is required in order for us to accept donations from you.

Who we share information with

We will never sell your data. We will not share personal data with third-party organisations for their marketing purposes without your permission. However, we may disclose your personal information in the following circumstances:

  • To other Natural History Museum entities, trading subsidiaries, suppliers or service providers to provide the products or services you've requested.
  • To out source functions when we do not have the in-house capacity required, such as the use of a mailing house for mailings, companies that run competitions on our behalf and analytical services that enable us to target our communications with customers and supporters more effectively. For example, if we are running a social media advertising campaign, this may require us to provide some partial identifiable (hashed) data to a third party site for matching purposes only (namely, so that you see relevant advertising in your feed), but that third party would never be permitted to use the personal data for its own purposes.
  • In the case of Supporter Research information, where appropriate we may occasionally share information with partners closely related to us(eg development partners supporting events that we organise), to process data for specific purposes on our behalf, on a considered, confidential basis managed through agreed processes.

In the cases outlined above, any third parties in question would be supporting the Natural History Museum’s operations and services under our instructions as Data Controller, and therefore they would be defined by data protection law as 'Data Processors'. These Data Processors are trusted partners who work with us to assist us in achieving our aims and objectives; they will not be permitted to use the data that we share with them for their own purposes. We require them to act lawfully in accordance with our instructions, and we ensure that appropriate controls (such as contractual Data Processing and Confidentiality Agreements) are in place to keep your information secure.

In addition, if we are required to do so in order to comply with a legal obligation (for example money laundering legislation or a court order) we may share your personal information with the police, law enforcement or regulatory bodies or relevant government authorities.

Transfer of data abroad

We will always ensure an adequate level of protection is provided for personal information transferred outside the European Economic Area. If the organisation we share personal data with is in a country without adequate data protection in place, we will place contractual requirements on the third-party organisation to handle personal data to the same standard that is required by legislation in the United Kingdom.

How long we keep your information

We only use your data for the purposes for which it was obtained. It will only be kept for as long as it is required for those lawful reasons.  

Your rights

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) you have the following rights:

  • to obtain access to, and copies of, the personal data that we hold about you
  • to require us to correct any inaccurate personal data we hold about you
  • to require us to restrict our processing of your personal data
  • to object to us processing your personal data
  • to object to receiving marketing communications from us
  • to withdraw your consent to processing of your personal data
  • to require us to erase your personal data ('right to be forgotten')
  • to obtain from us the personal data which you have provided, in order to transmit it to another organisation ('data portability')

Please note that the above rights are not absolute, and we may be entitled to refuse requests where exceptions apply. How we deal with some of your rights are set out elsewhere in this privacy notice. You also have the right to refer your concerns or queries to the supervisory authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office

Access to personal information and correction

We strive at all times to ensure that your personal information is accurate and up to date. You may ask us to correct or remove information you think is inaccurate by contacting us as detailed in the 'How to contact us' section of this notice. If your personal details change, please help us to keep your information up to date by notifying us at the address below.

Under the terms of data protection legislation you have the right to request access to and a copy of information that we hold about you, by making a Subject Access Request. You can do this in several ways:

Consent and your right to opt out

Complaints, enquiries and feedback

The Museum strives to meet the highest standards when collecting and using personal information. For this reason, we take any complaints we receive about this very seriously. We encourage people to bring it to our attention if they think that our collection or use of information is unfair, misleading or inappropriate. We would also welcome any suggestions for improving our procedures.

This privacy notice is intended to be brief and clear. It does not provide exhaustive detail of all aspects of the Museum's collection and use of personal information, but we are happy to provide you with any additional information or explanation.

If you have an enquiry, a complaint or suggestions regarding our data protection processes, please contact:

Data Protection Officer, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD

or email us at dataprotection@nhm.ac.uk.

If you are not satisfied by the response to your complaint, you are entitled to escalate your concern. The first step is to seek an internal review of the Museum's handling of your complaint. Please submit your application for a review in writing to the Data Protection Officer at the above address. The review will be undertaken by the Head of Risk and Assurance.

Changes to this privacy notice

We keep our privacy notice under regular review. Please visit this page periodically in order to keep up to date with any changes.

This privacy notice was last updated on 25 February 2019.

How to contact us

If you wish to make a complaint, request further explanation or suggest an improvement to how we use personal data, please contact:

Data Protection Officer, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD

or email us at dataprotection@nhm.ac.uk.