Historical botanical collections

The Historical Collections Room houses some of the Museum's most precious items, including many botanical specimens collected over 300 years ago.

The Museum's algae, fungi and plant collections span several centuries, covering a period of unprecedented exploration and investigation into natural history.

Some of the most precious items are housed in the Historical Collections Room - a high security, climate-controlled special collections area.

It includes the herbarium of Sir Hans Sloane, comprising 265 volumes and an estimated 120,000 plan specimens collected from over 70 countries and dependencies worldwide. An account of the collection is provided by Dandy (1958), available from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Other major collections include the herbaria of Paul Hermann, John Clayton and George Clifford.

Major collections

Looking for a specific specimen?

The historical collections are available in the Data Portal


Dr Fred Rumsey

Any questions?

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

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.