Accessing the collections

A researcher stands at a trolley looking at specimens with cabinets behind

The Natural History Museum collections are reopening

The Museum’s collections began reopening on 19 July 2021. Our curators are clearing backlogs of acquisitions, loans and enquiries.

The collections will be closed to visitors from 28 February 2022 to Friday 4 March 2022 for Audit Week.

Our curators are also collecting information and preparing for a major collections move to a new facility at Harwell Science Campus.

Please contact the relevant curator, Curator in Charge or Head of Collections with enquiries about whether research visits or research loans are possible.

As different collections are opening to different schedules, please make sure you discuss with your host whether access is possible to everything you wish to see including access to collections in another department or access to, and use of, the Museum’s Core Research Labs and Libraries and Archives.

The Public Reading Rooms remain closed please see Using the Library and Archives for updates.

Visitors to all science areas are advised to wear a face covering for their own and others protection as some spaces have poor ventilation. Some social distancing measures may also still be applied. 

All vsitors must be pre booked to comply with Track and Trace requirements, UK-based visitors will be expected to be making use of the NHS Track and Trace app. All visitors to science areas must provide their Museum host with evidence of a negative Covid test before their visit.  

We will open to exhibition loans requests from 1 September 2021 for exhibitions opening after 1 September 2022.

Due to many major projects in the Museum, including the move of 27 million objects to Harwell Science Campus, loans will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. This also means that we will require 12 months minimum notice period between the official loan request and opening rather than nine months.

We regret we cannot accommodate loan requests made with less than 12 months’ notice.  All our other exhibition loans information remains the same please see Loans.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about accessing the collections for research purposes please contact the appropriate collections manager or curator.

Collections on the move

We have set out on an ambitious programme to develop a new science and digitisation centre at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire. Access to collections will be affected as we prepare specimens for the move.

Collections management

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

Visitor information


Collections material may be borrowed for display, scientific research purposes or as part of a touring exhibition, subject to certain conditions.

Collections online

Take a look at our online collections to see if we have the specimens you need.