Porifera collections

A Porifera sponge against a white background

The Natural History Musuem’s extensive Porifera collections are of international importance, containing an estimated 50-70% of the world’s type material. 

Collection strengths

  • Antarctic and Australian material.
  • Deep sea material.

Important historical collections

  • James Scott Bowerbank collection
  • Maurice Burton collection
  • Henry John Carter collection
  • L.R. Crawshay collection
  • Cyril Crossland collection
  • Arthur Dendy collection
  • Duschaissaing and Michellotti type series
  • J.D. Gilchrist collection
  • Robert von Lendenfeld collection
  • Alfred Merle Norman collection
  • Edward Potts collection (freshwater sponges)
  • Charles Darwin's Beagle sponges

Expedition material

  • HMS Challenger (global oceanographic mission 1872-1876)
  • HMS Discovery (Antarctic Investigations 1925-1928)
  • HMS Porcupine (UK waters 186-1870)
  • HMS Beagle (global expedition 1831-1836)
  • Terra Nova Expedition (Antarctica 1910-1913)
  • Terra Nova non-Antarctic expeditions
  • HMS Sealark Expedition (1905)
  • Siboga Expedition (1899-1900)
  • RRS Shackleton (Antarctic 1955-1952)
  • RV Sarsia
  • Cook Bicentenary Expedition
  • Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (B.A.N.Z.A.R.E. 1929-1931)
  • John Murray Arabian Sea Expedition (1933-1934)

Looking for a specimen?

This collection is being digitised


Dr Tom S. White

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

Principal Curator in Charge, Invertebrates (non-insects)

Lauren Hughes

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

Specialist reference library

Porifera section library


Find out why our 80 million specimens are a globally important resource for scientific reference and research.

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.

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.