What we do

Contemporary natural history artwork

A small selection of our contemporary natural history artwork at an event for Museum Members

The Library and Archives is the national resource for natural historians, researchers, artists and academics. We're constantly working to develop, maintain and share our collection with visitors, colleagues and researchers around the world.

Collection development and curation

The Library and Archives continually acquires new material through purchases and donations or via exchange partnerships. If you would like to make a donation, our collection development staff will carefully consider any material that will enhance our existing collection.   

Our experienced and qualified teams ensure that Library and Archive materials are well looked after and kept in the best-possible storage conditions. We are following an ongoing programme to preserve and conserve our collections for current and future use.            

Digital collections

We are developing our digital collections by increasing the proportion of new material acquired in digital form and by digitising our legacy collections. We are a founding member of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), an international and collaborative open access project to make biodiversity literature available online. We are contributing to this rapidly expanding resource through the in-house digitisation of our journal, monograph and manuscript collections.        

Images of Nature gallery

Highlights of our world-famous collection of natural history artworks are showcased in the Museum's Images of Nature gallery. The gallery permanently displays many Library and Archives artworks and includes oil paintings. We also curate special temporary themed exhibitions based on our collections. These exhibitions change every 16 months and are accompanied by a publication on the theme.


Our staff have written books on topics ranging from the art of natural history to the history of the Museum. Available from the Museum's online shop, these books highlight some of the beautiful and unique items held in the Library and Archives, and their scientific and historical significance.

Nature Live 

We regularly present highlights of our collection at the Museum's Nature Live talks. These free discussions and events are held in the Attenborough Studio, so you can stop by and meet our staff.    

History of the Library and Archives

Discover the rich history of the Museum's Library and Archives.