Diatom collections

Darkfield light micrograph of live Skeletonema costatum and Melosira nummoloides,

Darkfield light micrograph of live Skeletonema costatum and Melosira nummoloides,diatoms collected in Herdlefjorden, western Norway.  Dr. Per R. Flood of Bathybiologica A/S, Norway

The Museum's diatom collection is one of the largest in the world, containing over 300,000 specimens accumulated from the early nineteenth century to the present day.


The collections are a crucial resource for modern research, diatom specimens are used to answer scientific questions about areas as diverse as climate change and phylogenetic relationships.

The collections are extremely geographically and taxonomically diverse, containing representatives from freshwater, brackish and marine environments.

All major diatom groups, both fossil and recent, are represented.

The comprehensive assortment of fossil specimens, includes one of the best representations of Cretaceous diatoms.

Looking for a specific specimen?

The Diatom collection is being digitised


Edgley Cesar

Any questions ?

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Major collections

The Museum's diatom collection has a large number of special collections and materials. The slides are mainly organised by diatomists who put that particular collection together as well as slides/materials of other diatomists.

Other important collections 

Published sets

  • Tempére & Peragallo (Diatomeés du monde entier, 1st and 2nd editions)
  • Cleve & Möller (Diatoms, 1877-1882)
  • H.L. Smith (Diatomacearum species typicae, 1876-1888)
  • G. L. Rabenhorst (Die algen sachsens, 1848-1860; Die Bacillarien sachsens. Ein beitrag zur fauna von sachsen,1849-1852)
  • Hamilton, Poulin, Charles & Angell (Americanarum diatomarum exsiccate, 1992-1994)
  • Tuji (Algae aquae dulcis japonicae exsiccatae, 2007)

Country of origin

Collections are extremely geographically diverse. Parts of the slide collection are assembled from particular geographic localities or expeditions eg

  • Russia (Lake Baikal in Siberia)
  • Indonesia (Lake Toba, Sumatra)
  • Jamaica
  • Philippines

Accessing the collections

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

Collections management

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