Images of Nature

Black rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis illustration by William Cornwallis Harris (1807-1848)

Black rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis illustration by William Cornwallis Harris (1807-1848).

  • no booking required

See how artists and scientists view the natural world through more than 100 images from the Museum's collection in the Images of Nature gallery.

Historic prints, watercolours and paintings spanning 350 years are displayed alongside modern images created by scientists, imaging specialists, photographers and micro-CT scanners.

The gallery includes a temporary exhibition of themed artworks.

Expeditions and Endeavours

For centuries, scientists and artists have embarked on a succession of expeditions to document the natural world. The observations of flora and fauna made by the artists on these voyages of natural history have contributed greatly to our understanding of nature.

Explore some of these artworks in our current exhibition Expeditions and Endeavours on display until 1 November 2019. The exhibition content will change every four months, giving you a rare opportunity to see remarkable never-before-displayed original illustrations and photographs.

Exhibit highlights include:

  • artworks from Captain Cook's Endeavour voyage (1768-1771), with illustrations from the Society Islands (Tahiti), Australia, New Zealand and Java, Indonesia by Sydney Parkinson, Alexander Buchan and Herman Spöring. Botanical specimens collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander are also on display. This year marks 250 years since the voyage departed England on 25 August 1768.
  • interactive screens, where you can explore a variety of artworks from the Museum's collections

July - November 2018

  • a bundle of botanical specimens collected on the Endeavour voyage pressed into printed pages of Joseph Addison’s Notes upon the twelve books of Paradise lost (originally published in 1719)
  • an illustration by John Webber, from Cook's third voyage, of a Kerguelen Island cabbage - whose leaves' high potassium- and vitamin C-rich oil meant its consumption helped the ship's crews suffering from scurvy, as discovered by Cook's surgeon William Anderson
Sporing shark illustration

Ff. 56. pencil sketch by Herman Dietrich Spöring made during Captain James Cook's first voyage to explore the southern continent 1768-1771. 

November 2018 - March 2019

  • artworks of flora and fauna from all three of Captain Cook's voyages to the Pacific
  • koalas drawn by Ferdinand Bauer on the HMS Investigator voyage captained by Matthew Flinders - the first detailed scientific description of the koala was by botanist Robert Brown in 1814
  • illustrations by early North American naturalists including William Bartram, William Young and John Abbot
Indian long-eared hedgehog colour illustration by Olivia Tonge

Indian long-eared hedgehog, Hemiechinus collaris
Olivia Tonge (1858-1949).

March - July 2019

  • photographs and illustrations from the HMS Challenger voyage
  • graphite illustrations by Dorothy Thursby Pelham of emperor penguin embryos from the three eggs that were collected by Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers and Apsley Cherry-Garrard in 1911 during the Terra Nova expedition to the Antarctic
  • the earliest illustration of whales held in the Museum's collections, by trained doctor and surgeon Sigismund Bacstrom, whose artistic works show precision and accuracy
Illustration of a pineapple, Ananas comosus John Reeves (1774-1856)

Pineapple, Ananas comosus
John Reeves (1774-1856). 

July - 1 November 2019

  • the affectionately-named 'flasher bat' - a colour illustration of a flying fox (Pteropus sp.) from Thomas Hardwicke's collection (1755-1835)
  • depictions of African flora and fauna by Thomas Baines and Margaret Fountaine, and a seventeenth-century watercolour from the Museum's collection of Cape plants illustrations
  • botanical and zoological illustrations from the Museum's Thomas Hardwicke collection
  • artworks of Sydney Parkinson (1745-1771), naturalist artist on board the Endeavour voyage (1768-1771)
Travel diary extract Margaret Fountaine (1862-1940).

Travel diary extract
Margaret Fountaine (1862-1940).

Flock to it

Discover an extinct dodo, our historical hummingbird cabinet and a Victorian avian anatomy display in the Birds gallery.

Access at South Kensington

Make sure your visit runs smoothly with our guide to cloakrooms, toilets, lifts and parking. You'll also find information about facilities for disabled visitors.

How to find this gallery

The Images of Nature gallery is in the Blue Zone on the Ground Floor next to Hintze Hall. You don't need to pre-book to visit the Images of Nature gallery.

Map of the Museum highlighting the Images of Nature gallery.

Discover artworks from the collections

Explore Ferdinand Bauer's stunning scientific illustrations

Ferdinand Bauer is regarded as one of the world’s greatest natural history painters. 

Women artists featured in our Library and Archives

Spanning the last four centuries and covering all subject areas, many of their works have contributed greatly to our knowledge of the natural world.

The modern botanical illustration collection

The Library's modern botanical illustration collection is continually growing, as we complement our historical collection with work from the finest modern botanical artists.

Plan the rest of your day at the Museum

Draw your own wildlife

Explore the Museum's Wildlife Garden where you can sketch your own flora and fauna illustrations.

Galleries and maps

Discover what you can see and do in our free galleries. Get around with the Museum map.

Go behind the scenes

Join a spirit collection tour where you’ll meet Archie, the giant squid, and view specimens collected by Charles Darwin.