The natural history collections span almost two hundred years, from the 1840s to the present. In addition to numerous individual donations, the museum has over the years acquired a number of major collections from local naturalists including Lord Rothschild, J Dony, and Harry and Doris Meyer. In 1998 it also acquired most of the contents of the Haileybury College Museum. Together, these constitute an important resource for natural history.

You can browse Natural History items in our online database here.


The geology material totals about 5,200 specimens, consisting of around 3,500 fossils and 1,700 rocks, minerals and crystals.


This collection contains a range of fossils from around the UK, from all major geological epochs. Its main strengths are the collection of local chalk fossils and fossil material from the Jurassic deposits of East Anglia and further afield.

Rocks, minerals and crystals

This collection is divided into stratigraphy (specimens showing the origin, composition and sequence of strata), rocks and minerals. The material is from all around the UK and abroad. Examples of local sediments and rock types are included.

Natural History

This collection represents the largest resource of natural history specimens in the county. All groups of animals, birds, insects and other invertebrates as well as plants are represented. A number of specimens are historically and scientifically important.

The vertebrate collection is extensive and includes examples of national first and county records, rarities, important breeding records and extinct species. There are comprehensive collections of local lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), coleoptera (beetles) and hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants).

The herbarium is of significant regional importance and contains many specimens collected by local botanists with records dating back to at least the 1840s. It is the largest section of the collection by far and includes the county herbarium, with many of the specimens cited in the Flora of Hertfordshire (2009).