London Natural History Museum

Institution (Original name) 
London Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
Postal code 
United Kingdom

(+44) 20 7942 5000

Type of institution 
Are you part of a larger entity / legal body? 
Full member
CETAF Official representative
Name, position, phone, e-mail, research field 

Dr. Vincent S. Smith, Research Leader in Informatics and Head of Division, Informatician and Entomologist, Tel: +44 (0) 207 942 5127,

Member of the Executive Committee? 
Executive Committee position 
Ordinary Member
Name, position, phone, e-mail, research field + Working Group or Project involved in 

Dr. Christopher H. C. Lyal, Entomologist, Weevil Systematics & biodiversity legislation, Tel: +44 (0)207 942 5113, Legislation and Regulations Group - L&R

Dr. Giles Miller, Collections Manager, Economic and Environmental Earth Sciences Collections Management, Micropalaeontology & Palaeozoic stratigraphy Tel: +44 (0)207 942 5415 Earth Science Group – ESG

Member of the Executive Committee? 
Director / legal representative of the institution (title, name, phone, e-mail, research field) 

Sir Michael Dixon +44 207 942 5849 / (Frances Allen – Executive Assistant to Board of Trustees)


The museum is divided into four groups under the directorate: These are Corporate Services, Development and Communications, Public Engagement and Science. Each group is further divided into Departments and Divisions. For a visual organogram of the Science Group structure please see the attached document.

Governing and executive bodies 

Museum Director Sir Michael Dixon reports to the Board of Trustees. Eight of the 12 Trustees are appointed by the Prime Minister and one (Royal Society Trustee) by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The remaining three are appointed by the board itself.

The running of the museum is the responsibility of the Executive board under the Museum Director. This is composed of the Museum Director, the Director of Science (Prof Ian Owens), the Director of Public Engagement (Dr Justin Morris), the Director of Finance and Corporate Services (Neil Greenwood) and the Director of Development Group (Fiona McWilliams).

The government provides grant-in-aid to the museum via the DCMS, which supplies the majority of the museum’s externally sourced funding.

Scientific staff 
Permanent (P)Non – Permanent (NP)
a) TOTAL scientific staff
b) Scientific staff linked to Collections
c) Post-docs / PhD students
d) Others (Associates, etc.)
TOTAL (a+b+c+d)21297
Other staff (administration etc.) 
Permanent (P)Non – Permanent (NP)
e) Exhibitions
f) Collection Managers / technicians
g) Others 433182
TOTAL (e+f+g) 433182
Total permanent staff 
Total non-permanent staff 
Grand total (permanent + non-permanent Staff) 
Male (%) 
Female (%) 
Any other information concerning the staff 

Figures given as FTE equivalents, not actual person numbers: Scientific Staff: Total Research and Research Support Staff: 81.14 (Permanent) Total Collection/curation staff: 121.62 (Permanent), 31.98 (Non-Permanent) Post-Doc Research Assistants, and PhD students (all non-perm): 50.23 (PDRA), 84 (PhD) Sci Other, e.g. tech support and associates: Life Science Associates: 130, Earth Science Associates: 50, Other: 9 (Permanent), Other 14.35 (Non-Permanent) Other staff includes corporate staff, Public Engagement Group (inc. front of house) and Development group.

R&D facilities
How many laboratories are in use in your institution? 
List of laboratories 

Imaging and Analysis Centre, including:

  • Chemical analysis (ICP, Ion chromatography, CHN elemental analysis)
  • Micro-analysis (Electron probe micro-analysis, Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, SEM with X-ray micro-analysis)
  • Imaging and tomography (Mico-CT, confocal microscopy, High-res SEM, Variable pressure SEM, TEM)

Molecular Biology Unit, including:

  • PCR
  • Sequencing (Illumina Miseq and Nextseq500 genome sequencers for next-gen sequencing, and Applied Biosystems 3730xl DNA analyser for sanger sequencing).
  • Specialised aDNA lab.

Conservation centre with a range of specialist equipment including:

  • Dual wavelength laser
  • Humidity changers
  • Micro-environmental control and monitoring equipment
  • Lifting and handling equipment for objects up to two tonnes
List of key tools (e.g. SEM, 3D, scanners/printers,...) 

Molecular Biology Unit (MBU):

  • Sanger sequencing - 3730xl DNA Analyser (Applied Biosystems)
  • Sanger sequencing - 9700 Dual 96-well Thermal Cycler (Applied Biosystems)
  • Sanger sequencing - 9700 Dual 384-well Thermal Cycler (Applied Biosystems)
  • Sanger sequencing - Veriti 96-well Thermal Cycler (Applied Biosystems)
  • Sanger sequencing - Microlab STAR Robotic Workstation (Hamilton) post PCR
  • Specimen Preperation Laboratory
  • DNA preperation (Isolation, Purification, Quantification and Imaging)
  • DNA Replication - Polymerase Chain Reaction, Library construction RNA laboratory
  • Cloning laboratory (Bacterial, Yeast, Fungal)
  • In situ hybridisation
  • Dark Room
  • Robotic High Throughput
  • Tissue Culture
  • Limited Insectaries

Zoology Radiography Suite:

  • Philips MCN161 tube with a Tungsten target, tube voltage 160kV/10mA current
  • Machlett Solar Schall tube with a copper target, tube voltage 55kV/15mA current

Electron Beam Instruments:

  • High Resolution Field Emission SEM (Zeiss ULTRA Plus) with EDX analysis (Oxford Instruments Inca with X-Max 80 detector)
  • Variable pressure SEM (LEO 1455VP) with EDX analysis (Oxford Instruments Inca with X-Max 80 detector)
  • Variable pressure analytical SEM (Zeiss EVO 15LS) with EDX analysis (Oxford Instruments Inca with X-Max 80 detector) and cathodoluminesence imaging (Gatan Chroma CL)
  • Cameca SX100 Electron Microprobe (5-spectrometer) with EDX analysis and CL imaging
  • Variable Pressure, Field Emission SEM (FEI Quanta 650 ESEM FEG) with EDX analysis (Bruker Esprit with Flat Quad 5060F)

Chemical Laboratories:

  • Solution ICPMS (Agilent 7700x ICPMS)
  • Solution ICPAES (Thermo iCAP 6500 duo view ICP-AES)
  • Ion Chromatography (Dionex ICS-3000)
  • CHNS Analyser (Elementar Vario EL cube)

Optical Laboratories:

  • Confocal laser scanning microscope (Nikon A1 Si fitted to an Eclipse upright microscope)
  • Zeiss Axiotron Microscope with Diode Array Spectrophotometer
  • Petrological microscopes (Zeiss)
  • Petrological microscope (Leica DMR)
  • Olympus BX63 motorised light microscope
  • Olympus BX61 motorised light microscope
  • Zeiss AxioZoom v. 16 motorised stereo microscope
  • Zeiss Stemi v11 stereo microscope with camera
  • Leica MZ 125 stereo microscope with camera
  • Macrophotography stands with cameras
  • Smartdrive SatScan automated large field imaging system

X-ray diffraction laboratories – a comprehensive suite of instrumentation:

  • Powder Diffraction System (Nonius PDS120) with PSD detector
  • Rigaku D/Max-Rapid II - Powder and Single Crystal Diffractometer with two-dimensional IP detector
  • Micro Powder Diffraction System (Nonius PDS120) with GeniX High Flux Source and temperature stage (50-1200C)
  • High Resolution Scanning Diffractometer (Panalytical X'Pert Pro MPD - Alpha 1)
  • Xcalibur Single Crystal Diffractometer (Agilent) with Cryojet temperature stage (90-490K)

Tomography: micro-CT Nikon HMX SST 255, high resolution micro-CT Zeiss Versa 520

Other scientific / R&D facilities 

Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity: Centre supporting individuals/schemes/societies that record, monitor and protect UK biodiversity. Main facilities and services include an identification and advisory service, a fully equipped visitor space with microscopes and photo-stacking equipment, UK biodiversity reference collections and the London Natural History Society’s library.

Quarantine Facility: Facility that aims to prevent pest infestation. Includes four freezers at different sizes, a hot/cold treatment chamber, and drying cabinets.

Ore Mineralogy Laboratory: Reflected light microscopy and microscope spectrophotometry laboratory for ore analysis.

Centre for Arts and Humanities: Research Centre supporting research into the historical, cultural, social and economic significance of the Natural History Museum’s science, archives and library collections.

Number of permanent exhibitions 
List of permanent exhibitions  
Fishes, Amphibians and Reptiles
Human Biology
Images of Nature
Mammals + Blue Whale
Marine Invertebrates
Earth Hall & Stegosaurus
Human Evolution
From the Beginning
Earth’s Treasury
Restless Surface
Volcanoes and Earthquakes
Creepy Crawlies
Fossil Marine Reptiles
Fossils from Britain
Hintze Hall
The Vault
Treasures in the Cadogan Gallery
Darwin Centre
Wildlife Garden
Number of recent exhibitions 
Recent Temporary Exhibitions (< 2 years) 
Mammoths: Ice Age Giants
Britain: One million years of the human story
Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 2014-15 (50)
Sensational Butterflies (2015)
Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 2015-16 (51)
Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea
Otherworlds: Visions of our Solar System
Number of current exhibitions 
Current Temporary Exhibitions 
Images of Nature: Bauer Brothers
Colour and Vision – Through the Eyes of Nature
Sensational Butterflies (2016)
Number of future exhibitions 
Future exhibitions  
Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 2016-17 (52)
Summary of your Research programme 

Museum research is extremely broad across the life and earth sciences. Life science Divisions include Insects, Invertebrates, Diversity and informatics, Parasites and vectors, Vertebrates, and Algae, fungi and plants. Earth science divisions include Economic and environmental sciences, Mineral and planetary sciences, Invertebrate and plant palaeobiology, and Vertebrate and anthropological palaeobiology. The museum also has a large and active Core Research Lab (CRL) facility including a conservation centre, imaging and analysis centre, digitisation centre and molecular biology unit. Science heritage research also takes place via the Library and archives department.

Research priorities are structured via five ‘challenges’ according to our Science Strategy

Research Field 
1) The digital NHM
Research Field 
2) Origins, Evolution and Futures
Research Field 
3) Biodiversity Discovery
Research Field 
4) Natural Resources and Hazards
Research Field 
5) Science, Society and Skills
Scientific publications
Number of peer-reviewed publications per year 
Monthly journals/series 

Journal of Systematic Palaeontology Latest issue: Volume 14, Issue 9 (August 2016) 2015 Impact Factor 3.143

Journal of Systematics and Biodiversity Latest issue: Volume 14, Issue 5 (August 2016) 2015 Impact Factor 1.985

Other publications 

Books in 2016:

October 2016: “Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Portfolio 26”, Rosamund Kidman Cox (ed.)

September 2016: “The Masters of Nature Photography: Volume Two”, Rosamind Kidman Cox (ed.)

September 2016: “The Mara” – Anup Shah.

September 2016: “Dinosaurs – How they lived and evolved”, Darren Naish & Paul Barrett.

October 2016: “Trees – A complete guide to their biology and structure”, Roland Ennos.

September 2016: “Flora – An Artistic Voyage Through the World of Plants”, Sandra Knapp.

January 2016: “Otherworlds – Visions of our Solar System”, Michael Benson.

July 2016: “Birds – A complete guide to their biology and behaviour”, Jonathan Elphick.

July 2016: “Colour and Vision – Through the eyes of Nature”, Steve Parker.

June 2016: “In the Blink of an Eye – How vision kick-started the Big Bang of Evolution”, Andrew Parker.

June 2016: “Seven Deadly Colours – The genius of nature’s palette”, Andrew Parker.

Digital copy of the latest annual report 
EARTH SCIENCES (Geology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology,…) 
TypologyPrimary typesIndividual specimens/objects% registered cards% recorded cards in database
LIFE SCIENCES (Zoology, Biology, Botany, Mycology,…) 
TypologyPrimary typesIndividual specimens/objects% registered cards % recorded cards in database
Total specimens (all collections) 
Outstanding collection features 

Life Sciences

Botany: 6 million specimens of bryophytes, ferns, seed plants and slime moulds. 117,250 primary types. Systematics of all cryptogamic plant groups except non-lichenised fungi. Comprehensive, type-rich collections of lichens, bryophytes and algae, strong in Old World pteridophytes European, Macaronesian, North African, Himalayan and Central American vascular plants. Microbial collections: The Museum’s collection of algae is one of the largest in the world, with more than a quarter of a million specimens from around the globe. The lichen collection consists of about 400,000 specimens and at least 10,000 type specimens. The Diatom collections include freshwater, brackish and marine representatives and are extremely geographically and taxonomically diverse, with all major diatom groups – both fossil and recent – represented by over 300,000 specimens.

Vertebrate collections: The Avian anatomical collections include skeleton and spirit collections, together totalling around 33,600 specimens. The world-renowned avian skin collection at the Museum hosts almost 750,000 specimens representing about 95% of the world’s extant bird species. The zoological collections are rich in voucher, type and historical specimens as well as extinct and endangered species.

Invertebrate collections: Exceptionally strong arachnid and hymenoptera specimens, especially for the British Isles, Europe, Commonwealth countries and the former British Empire. Named insect specimens of two-thirds of valid insect genera, and over half the valid described species in the world are represented. 500,000 lots of byrozoa.

Earth Sciences

Ocean deposits: The most comprehensive British collection of seabed samples and cores (40,000 worldwide localities). All oceans represented. The Sir John Murray Collection including the NHMS challenger 1872-76 seabed samples.

Meteorites: World-class meteorite collection strong in Chrondites and non-Antarctic Martian meteorites (around 2,000 individual meteorites in about 5,000 registered pieces).

Ores: >15,000 ore specimens.

Rocks: Around 123,000 sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks. Unique collection of a wide variety of 16,0000 British and European building and decorative stones.

Minerals: World-class mineral collection containing half the mineral species known in the world (10% primary types).

Micropalaeontology: Typed/figured material from >2,000 scientific publications with around 650,000 slides, residue bottles and samples. Millions of individual specimens. Over 106,600 type and figured specimens, with an estimated 51,500 being primary types.

Palaeobotany: Abundance of fossils from British Carboniferous coal measures, the Yorkshire Jurassic, and Eocene London Clay.

Fossil invertebrates: 14,000 specimens in the fossil annelid collections, all 6 classes of annelids represented across the entire geographical range. Best collection of fossil Byrozoans in the world (over 750,000 specimens). Wide representation of all classes of echinoderm and world-class carpoid collection. Over 5 million specimens in the fossil mollusc collectino including specimens collected by Charles Darwin during the HMS Beagle voyage. Estimated 71,000 fossil sponges.

Fossil vertebrates: Global fossil mammal materials with a diverse collection of Mesozoic mammals and an abundance of type/figuerd materia. Major reptile clades all represented with one of the world’s most important dinosaur collections (inc. World’s most complete Stegosaurus on display in the earth galleries). Collections representing the full stratigraphic range from Pre-Cambrian to recent. Strong holdings of historical and monograph material.

Does your institution have an Index Seminum? 


Heritage sciences (art, manuscripts, maps, photographs...) 
  • Type(s) of objects: Printed journals, books/monographs, maps, artworks, special books, manuscripts.
  • No. of objects (of each type): Almost 400,000 books, 22,000 ongoing journal titles, 350,000 artworks and >100,000 catalogued archival items.

Library collection highlights can be found here:

Examples include the Darwin collection, the Bauer brothers art collection and records from the Cook voyages and the HMS Investigator voyage. Largest natural history reference collection in the world. Oldest book dating from 1469.

Genetic Repositories
Does your institution have a DNA bank? 
Does your institution have a seed bank? 
Number of outgoing loans (parcels / specimens) per year 
15/16: 22,187 14/15: 65,079 13/14: 34,216 12/13: 49,320
Number of accessions (specimens) per year 
65,895 in 15/16 *minimum estimate over 348 accession transactions (# of items not always specified)*
Number of scientific visitors per year 
Botany - Plant evolutionary and developmental studies, conservation and biodiversity analytical methods, nomenclature and typification, tropical seeding biology, molecular systematics, Solanceae systematics.
Vertebrates - Systematics and evolution of reptile, amphibian and fish groups. Biogeography and conservation. Bird eggs and nests.
Invertebrates - Systematics of insect disease vectors and insect pests of humans and domestic animals. Forensic entomology. Molecular and cellular evolution of parasitic protists. Deep sea biology (nematodes).
Soil microfauna diversity and soil ecosystem processes. Systematics of parasitic worms (trematodes, helminths and schistomes) in humans and domestic animals. Systematics and biology (including phylogeny and ontology) of Crustacean groups.
Fossil invertebrates - fossil annelids, fossil byrozoans, echinoderms, mollusca and sponges.
Fossil vertebrates - dinosaurs, fossil fish, fossil birds, all major reptile clades, Mesozoic mammals, fossil amphibians (late Devonian to Pleistocene), palaeobiogeography and palaeogeography of amphibians and reptiles.
Main activities of communication and outreach 

Citizen Science Projects: Public contribution to scientific research is encouraged via a number of citizen science initiatives. Currently running are:

Exhibitions are promoted via marketing in national publications/newspapers, public advertising, etc.

NatureLive: Regular talks by museum staff and other experts giving the opportunity for the public to get educated on specific topics and gain insight into the scientific research carried out at the museum. (

Other public events and scientific outreach activties include daily Spirit Collection Tours (, our 'Hands on Nature’ activities and activities within our Investigate Centre. Themed ’lates’ events are also held monthly providing opportunities to experience the museum after closing hours, also including special talks and shows. (

’Science Uncovered’ has taken place annually since 2010 as part of European Researcher’s Night. This showcases museum scientists, research and collections through ’science stations’ with displays and demonstrations, lectures and debates, and museum tours. (

Contact person at your institution for communications / press / external relations (name, position, phone, e-mail) 

CETAF communication contact: John Jackson, Head of Science Communication and policy ( Press:; +44 207 942 5654

Last year:  
5 352 000
Trends (past and future) 

Trends: 14-15: 5,426,000. 13-14: 5,579,000. 12-13: 5,132,000. 11-12: 4,992,000

Website visitors
Last year  
10 489 392
Institution news
Career opportunities
Research updates
Workshops / Events
Online media galleries
If your institution is involved with non-university-based teaching or education programmes, please describe them & the partners 


If your institution is involved with universities in teaching or education programmes, please name and describe them 

The museum collaborates in teaching Masters’ level courses, and in training PhD students via Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and individual collaborations:

NHM/IC joint MSc in Taxonomy and Biodiversity (

NHM/IC joint MRes in Biosystematics (

NHM/UCL/IoZ MRes in Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation. (

We are a host partner in four Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) DTPs: GW4+ (, London (, SPITFIRE (, SSCP ( and also co-supervise students within the Oxford NERC DTP (

We are also a partner in the SEAHA (Science and Engineering for Arts, Heritage and Archaeology, DTP with UCL, Brighton and Oxford universities. We also co-supervise PhD students funded by other organisations, including Leverhulme Trust, John Spedan Lewis Trust, EU training networks, and different UK funding councils.

If your institution is involved in online courses, please describe them and the partners 


If your institution is involved in training projects, please describe them and the partners 

The NHM is currently in the second year of ’Identification Trainers of the Future’, a programme providing 15 paid traineeships in biological recording and species surveying to tackle a shortage of species identification experts.

The NHM has led on, and participated in, a number of NERC-funded ’Advanced Training Short Courses’ over the past few years. Those currently running are:

  • Taxonomic skills and field techniques for freshwater ecology and quality
  • An introduction to computed tomography: 3D non-destructive imaging for taxonomy
  • Quaternary palaeoecology
  • Taxonomy and stratigraphy of Cenozoic planktonic foraminifera
  • Molecular diagnostics for species identification and evolutionary analysis
  • Taxonomic principles and tools in botanical research T

The museum also runs the following collections-care short courses: The fundamentals of natural history conservation Working safely with natural history collections Disaster planning and salvaging The fundamentals of effective pest management Advanced integrated pest management

Other relevant information on education and / or training carried out 

The museum has a full school education programme for all levels (Key stage 1-3 and 16 plus), more details of relevant activities can be found here (

The NHM also has an active work experience placement programme ( and regularly recruits volunteers (

Contact person at your institution for education / teaching / training (name, position, phone, e-mail) 

Dr Eileen J. Cox, Head of Postgraduate Studies.; phone: +44(0)20 7942 5290


1. Digital: The digital revolution is transforming how science is done, how information is shared and how people engage with the natural world and the process of scientific discovery. We embrace these changes to reinvent how we make our collection and expertise available to scientific and general audiences worldwide: • Big, open data: Deliver a programme of large-scale digitisation to make our collection available to everyone • Global virtual communities: Build online communities and our NHM membership scheme around our three big narratives and issue an engaging, topical stream of information, news and commentary • Technology innovation: Create platforms to enhance the experience of our visitors prior to, during and after their visit, develop a virtual forum that complements what we offer members and other groups and expand our commercial revenue streams

2. Citizen Science: A longstanding appreciation of the natural world provides an extraordinary starting point to engage audiences with contemporary science. We want to use regional networks to increase Britain’s capacity in scientific, learning and curatorial disciplines. We will raise the visibility and impact of our activities across Britain, including at our site at Tring, by developing collaborative projects: • UK biodiversity and citizen science: Create tools to monitor UK biodiversity, and become a centre for developing UK activities that engage audiences with the natural world through public participation in citizen science and touring exhibitions • Learning outreach: Lead a programme working with national and regional organisations to enhance science learning in schools and beyond • Opening up the nation’s collections: Forge a collaborative network of natural history collections, sharing expertise and best practice and developing shared collection use and storage facilities.

3. International societal challenges: We must act at a global level to tackle the most important scientific and societal challenges faced by the natural world and humanity. We will play a more visible leadership role to forge international partnerships and pursue large-scale scientific, public and commercial initiatives: • Partnerships and leadership: Pursue an international programme of activities and exhibitions, engaging a global audience in our three big narratives and developing new commercial opportunities to better exploit the Museum’s brand, collection and expertise • Next-generation biodiversity discovery: Lead an international consortium to develop a twenty-first-century toolkit for the discovery of biological diversity and apply this to explore hyper-diverse systems • Scientific grand challenges: Use our collection and expertise to tackle questions of fundamental relevance to science and society, including environmental change, the spread of diseases and the supply of food and scarce minerals


1. Big, open data and digital activities: This includes digitisation of major parts of our collection to make it openly available to public and scientific audiences worldwide, which will remain a prevailing theme for the NHM due to the scale and on-going development of the collection. The NHM will be at the forefront of developing innovative technology to exploit opportunities created by the digital collection, including areas such as machine learning, robotics and virtual collections access.

2. Infrastructure: The next 25 years will witness the transformation of our South Kensington building, one of the UK's most iconic, which has stood for nearly 150 years. At each stage of the transformation we will improve the fabric and infrastructure of our estate to meet the needs of our activities and audiences. We will also invest in systems and technology that make us more effective at managing information and mobilising our data to enrich global scientific knowledge.

3. People: An expert and passionate community of people work, study and volunteer at the Museum. Our people provide the foundation for all our activities. The rich combination of their skills and the relationships they form fuels the potential for ideas that will change the future. We will continue to recruit and develop talent from around the world and cultivate an environment where we share, internally and externally, to succeed.


The NHM has led in the development of a series of international organisations that develop policy and standards for natural history collections and related areas of research, and serve large digital datasets. CETAF engagement with these groups helps strengthen and sustain these activities. Examples include Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), Encyclopaedia of Life (EoL), Science Collections International (SciColl), Global Genomes Biodiversity Network (GGBN), Global Biodiversity Informatics Facility (GBIF), Biodiversity Information Standards Organisation (TDWG) and the Research Data Alliance (RDA). Taken together with CETAF, these organisations constitute a highly successful partnership of collection-based organisations that deliver added value for the NHM, the UK and for the international community.

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