Using our collections

 The Museum's Collection includes five million insects, over half a million fossils, rocks and minerals, and over 250,000 zoological specimens. There is also a library of around 20,000 books and an archive containing approximately half a million manuscripts. 

Visitors to the collections are welcome, and collections managers are on hand to facilitate visits. Please note that due to several large-scale projects that are running concurrently, the museum will be running a reduced loans and enquiries service from January 1 to June 30 2020 and this will lead to delays in processing enquiries and loans. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Our facilities

During your visit, we can provide bench space, a microscope with lighting, nitrile gloves and access to a mains power supply. There is a suite of imaging facilities available at the Museum (including a photo-stacking camera), which must be booked in advance. We can help you locate material in our collections, as well as any relevant literature.

The Museum has Eduroam and public WiFi access (both free).

To book a visit, contact the collections manager whose specialism most closely matches your interest.

The Library

The Library contains over 19,000 volumes, including a number of rare and antiquarian books, and over 100 current periodicals. It also houses an impressive collection of rare offprints, with more than 80,000 catalogued. We may also be able to process imaging requests. Many researchers find they want to book a visit to the Library at the same time as visiting other collections. Please contact to make arrangements.

The Archive

The Archive holds a wide range of papers, photographs and maps relating to the Museum's specimen collections, along with several archives from notable naturalists, including William Smith, William Buckland, John Phillips and J O Westwood. To visit the Archive, please email

More information and resources for your visit


Download our Information for prospective visitors to the collections to find out what to expect during your visit, as well as information about accomodation and public transport.







Download our destructive sampling and application document.



Download our Loans Policy for more information on borrowing specimens. 









Download our Drawing Techniques for Publication Guide