A velvet worm specimen on a white background

The Museum's 80 million objects form the world’s most important natural history collection.

The scientific community is using the collection to answer key questions about the past, present and future of the solar system, the geology of our planet and life on Earth.


Entomology collections

Browse the oldest and most important entomology collection in the world of over 34 million insects and arachnids. Gathered over 300 years, these specimens are key to telling the history of collecting, the science of taxonomy and the human desire to understand the natural world.

Botany collections

Explore our botanical collection of an estimated six million specimens of bryophytes, ferns, seed plants and slime moulds from around the world, along with large collections of algae, lichens and diatoms.

Zoology collections

Search the 29 million animal specimens in the zoology collection that have been gathered for over 250 years from around the world. The collection is rich in voucher, type and historical specimens as well as extinct and endangered species.

Palaeontology collections

Discover the geographic, stratigraphic and historical coverage of the seven million vertebrate, invertebrate and plant fossils in our palaeontology collection.

Mineralogy collections

Explore one of the world's finest collections of 500,000 rocks, gems and minerals, including 5,000 meteorites. Find out how you can use it as a resource for economic geology and scientific research.

Library and Archive collections

Discover hidden treasures from the Library and Archives, from artworks and acquisitions to historical highlights. The collection contains more than 1.5 million books, manuscripts and artworks used for scientific, historical and humanities research.

Molecular collections

Delve into our molecular collections, a unique and valuable resource with the capacity to store genetic material for generations to come.

Digitising the collections

We are digitising 80 million specimens from one of the world’s most important natural history collections and giving online access to the data through our Data Portal.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.

Accessing the collections

Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.

Collections on the move

We have set out on an ambitious programme to develop a new science and digitisation centre. As we prepare for the move, access to some collections will be affected. 

Find out more and sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on changes to collections access, relevant news and opportunities to get involved.