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 personal information.

The privacy notice applies to information we collect about:

  • Visitors to our digital channels (e.g. website, app)
  • Devices detected by our free Wi-Fi service
  • People who use and support our services
  • Job and volunteering applicants

The notice provides information on:

  • How we use your personal information
  • Your rights to access and correct the information we hold about you
  • How to contact us for queries or complaints about our use of your personal information, and to unsubscribe from marketing communications

Who we are

The Natural History Museum is the UK's national museum of natural history, and a centre of scientific excellence in taxonomy and biodiversity. It includes the Natural History Museum at Tring. The Museum's mission is to maintain and develop its collections and use them to promote the discovery, understanding, responsible use and enjoyment of the natural world.

The Natural History Museum Trading Company carries out the commercial activities of the Museum: touring exhibitions, brand management and licensing, functions and banqueting, catering, retailing, Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition, animatronic model sales and consultancy in science, exhibition development, and health and safety. As a wholly owned subsidiary, the Trading Company is subject to the Natural History 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” and “we” refer to the Natural History Museum and the Natural History Museum Trading Company.

The Natural History Museum and/or the Natural History Museum Trading Company are the data controller(s) of your personal information, and are registered with the Information Commissioner's Office as such.

Visitors to our digital channels and how we use cookies

When you visit we collect standard internet log information and details of visitor behaviour patterns. We do this to find out things such as the number of visitors to the various parts of the site, to compile statistical reports on website activity and to personalise our visitors’ experiences of using the site.

Cookies are text files placed on your computer to collect this information. You can set your browser not to accept cookies and 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 cookies on our Information about cookies page.

If we do want to collect personally identifiable information via the website or other digital channels, we will be up front about this. We will make it clear when we collect personal information and will explain what we intend to do with it.

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

Devices detected by our free Wi-Fi service

Free Wi-Fi access is available throughout the Museum via the NHM-free-wifi network. 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 provide information about how your data will be used.

If you do not use the free Wi-Fi network but you have Wi-Fi enabled on your smartphone, tablet or another internet-enabled device, your device can still be detected by the Wi-Fi service. We record data about the location and type of devices in the Museum that have Wi-Fi enabled so that we can monitor the flow of visitors around the Museum, and to 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 future we want to process your data in this way to offer you new services, before doing so we will always ask you if you agree to take part.

People who use and support our services

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 they have requested
  • for administration purposes e.g. to administer donations
  • to further our charitable aims, including fundraising activities
  • to gather feedback 

We may also hold and analyse your data in order to continue to improve our understanding of our target audiences and of our supporters. This is with a view to providing world class, transformative, visitor-focused experiences, customer service and educational engagement, and to look at ways in which we might in the future use the latest technologies to improve and personalise the services that we offer. As part of this, we may analyse personal information collected from you, and occasionally from third parties, to create a profile of your interests and preferences so that we can contact you in the most appropriate way and with the most relevant information.

We may use your data to contact you from time to time by post, email, phone and/or SMS with news and information about the Museum that we feel may be of interest to you, such as research, education and fundraising, and about our other events, activities, products and services. We will not use your personal information for such marketing purposes if you have indicated that you do not wish to be contacted.

When you subscribe to our services or give consent to receiving news and information from us, you can cancel your subscription, withdraw your consent to being contacted or change your preferred method of contact at any time filling in this form. Subscribing for email newsletters and other marketing communications is optional. You do not need to subscribe to marketing from us when you buy products, book tickets, donate or use any other of our services.

We will not share personal data with third party organisations for marketing purposes, but may occasionally outsource functions when we do not have the in-house capacity required, such as the use of a mailing house for mailings, and analytical services that enable us to target our communications with customers and supporters more effectively. In such cases we will only use reputable and well vetted firms and have contracts and processes in place that ensure the safe and confidential processing of personal data at all times. We may also disclose personal information where required or otherwise permitted by law. We will always ensure an adequate level of protection is provided for personal information transferred outside the European Economic Area.

We occasionally share data with the Natural History Development Trust, a dedicated independent fundraising trust, and The International Friends of the Natural History Museum, a foundation run by a board of trustees and a registered 501(c)3 organisation encouraging tax-deductible gifts under US law. These organisations are subject to strict agreements with the Museum that ensure that they meet the highest standards when collecting and using personal data.

Job and volunteering applicants

If you apply to work or volunteer at the Museum, we will use the information you supply to us to process your application and to monitor recruitment statistics. Where we want to disclose information to a third party, for example where we want to take up a reference or obtain a ‘disclosure’ from Disclosure Scotland or the Disclosure and Barring Service, we will not do so without informing you beforehand.

Personal information about unsuccessful candidates will be held for 12 months after the recruitment exercise has been completed, after which it will be destroyed, unless you have asked us to destroy it earlier or allowed us to retain it for longer by written request. 

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 that you think is inaccurate by contacting us as detailed below in the How to contact us section. 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 the Data Protection Act you have the right to request a copy of information that we hold about you, by making a Subject Access Request. If you would like a copy of some or all of your information you may make a request by writing to our Information Compliance Officer as explained in the How to contact us section below.

Complaints, enquiries and feedback

The Natural History Museum tries 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 was drafted with brevity and clarity in mind. It does not provide exhaustive detail of all aspects of the Natural History Museum’s collection and use of personal information. However, we are happy to provide any additional information or explanation needed.

Complaints and enquiries about, or suggestions for improvements to, our data protection processes should be directed to the Information Compliance Officer using the contact details provided below.

How to contact us

If you wish to make a complaint, request further explanation of any issues relating to this privacy notice, or make a suggestions for improving our processes relating to the way we use personal data, then please direct your request to the Information Compliance Officer by email at or in writing at the Museum address: The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD.

You may opt out from receiving marketing communications from us at any time, change your contact preferences or ask to have your personal data removed or corrected in our records by writing to us at: Marketing Department, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, or by filling in this form. Please ensure that you state your full name and address in the letter or email so that we may locate your record on our database.

If you wish to request a copy of all or part of your personal information held by the Museum by making a subject access request you can do this in several ways:

Changes to this privacy notice

We keep our privacy notice under regular review. You are advised to visit this page periodically in order to keep up to date with any changes. By continuing to use our services you will be deemed to have accepted such changes.

This privacy notice was last updated on 20 April 2017.