Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

In brief   Collections   Highlights   Access   Developments   Contact

In brief

The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum is named after Sir Alfred Herbert, a local industrialist who founded Alfred Herbert Limited, at one time the world’s largest machine toolmaking company.

Sir Alfred donated £200,000 to the City of Coventry to pay for the construction of an Art Gallery and Museum. Sadly Sir Alfred did not live to see the Art Gallery and Museum opened and on 9th March 1960. Lady Herbert, his third wife, declared the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum open.

In October 2008 the Herbert completed a major redevelopment which saw eight new permanent galleries, new temporary exhibition spaces and the History Centre (a combination of City Archives and Local Studies Library) open. We also asked members of the public to choose their favourite object or work of art in the Herbert. Their choices are on display in an exhibition called “Connected”.

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One of the Herbert’s taxidermy specimens.


The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum holds around 185,000 specimens with main strengths in:

  • Entomology (approx 140,000);
  • Bird eggs (approx 10,000: 9th largest public collection in the UK); and
  • World molluscs (approx 25,000).

We also hold a small number of cased Spicer fish, rocks and minerals, palaeontology, taxidermy, skeletal material, as well as a collection from HM Revenue & Customs of illegally imported animal material.

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Tropical butterflies.


Of particular note in the collections are:

  • A small piece of the Barwell meteorite which landed in Leicestershire in 1965 and is on display in Connected;
  • An albino blackbird, also in Connected; and
  • A Northern Oriole which was found in Coventry.
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Barwell meteorite piece.

The albino blackbird.

HM Revenue & Customs collection.


Ali Wells is the Herbert’s Natural Sciences curator. If you wish to view any of the collections please use the contact details below and detail what you’d like to see.

Collection Database: much of the collection, apart from entomology, has been inputted onto our database. Although good portion of the entomology collection has also been recorded. Coventry Collections contains a searchable version of this database.

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A permanent Natural History gallery, Elements, opened in 2008. This is an aesthetic celebration of nature that combines high tech with collection items to produce a highly sensory experience for the visitor. The exhibition specifically targets people with disabilities and special needs and is also very popular with our family audience.

Our open store, What’s in Store, displays a range of natural history items, including taxidermy, skeletal material and the Spicer fish cases.

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Pteridosperm fossil found in the Warwickshire coalfield.


Ali Wells, Curator (Natural Sciences and Human History)                  

t: 024 7623 7573  e: ali.wells@culturecoventry.com


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Part of a large display of minerals under short and long wave UV light.


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