Natural History

Investigate this collection for a unique glimpse into the colourful 19th-century natural world of Dorset and beyond. Highlights include bird skins collected from the Malay Archipelago in the 1850s by Alfred Russel Wallace, who later settled in Poole. There is also an extensive collection of Dorset specimens including mammals and birds, bird eggs, molluscs and around 130,000 insects. The herbarium contains plant specimens collected by John Clavell Mansel-Pleydell during the late 19th century.

Important Announcement

Friday 22 September 2023, The Victorian Hall will also be closed all day for a private function. The Fine Foundation Dorset Story Space, next the the Thomas Hardy's Dorset Gallery will also be closed for an hour around Midday.

dorset-museum-entomology-collection

Natural History

November 10, 2020

Helen and Nelson Richardson’s entomology collection    

Helen (c.1855-1936) and Nelson Richardson (1855-1925) collected and documented moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) on Portland and Purbeck, and discovered a number of new species. These…

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dorset-museum-helen-richardson-watercolour

Natural History

November 2, 2020

Watercolour by Helen Richardson

Helen Richardson (c.1855-1936) was an enthusiastic field worker, collecting moths at night on Portland. She illustrated specimens in intricate watercolour paintings – some were reproduced…

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dorset-museum-objects-bird-skin

Natural History

October 14, 2020

Bird skin collected by Alfred Russel Wallace

On Wallace’s trips to the Malaysian islands he collected over 8,000 bird specimens. Studying them helped him develop his theories on evolution…

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dorset-museum-objects-Cyril-Days-butterfly-collection

Natural History

September 24, 2020

Cyril Day’s butterfly collection

These are just a small part of Cyril Douglas Day’s (1885-1968) collection of 2,652 insects, representing the wide diversity of species commonly found in Dorset…

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dorset-museum-objects-Great-bustard

Natural History

September 24, 2020

Great bustard

Great bustards were native to Britain and used to live on parts of Dorset’s open grasslands. By the 1840s hunting and habitat changes had made…

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