The Warwickshire Museum was founded by the Warwickshire Natural History and Archaeological Society in 1836. The society collected and displayed items from all over the world.
Today, Warwickshire Museum collects principally from the county of Warwickshire. However, our collections remain remarkably diverse, due partly to their rich nineteenth century legacy. They lie at the heart of what we do in the museum – our displays, events and other activities. We currently have two museums in Warwick – the Market Hall and St John’s House Museum, as well as the Roman Alcester Heritage Museum in Alcester. We also loan items to other museums for their displays and events.
The ‘Old Collection’ stems mainly from the 19th century collecting activities of the Warwickshire Natural History Society and consists of:
- Botany, including wild plants as herbarium specimens, notably the Perry Herbarium; also some wood samples, fruits, seeds and economic plant products. Foreign material was transferred to Kew many years ago, but British material still remaining is historically important.
- Vertebrate zoology, containing mounted mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fishes and birds; also bird nests, eggs, bones, teeth, antlers etc. Invertebrate zoology is mainly insects and shells. All the foreign zoology material is on long-term loan to the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.
Material has been added since the 1930s, with more emphasis on Warwickshire. Much has come in as whole collections of specimens made by local naturalists.
Building upon the ‘Old Collection’, present-day holdings comprise:
- Botany, which consists of a fine herbarium containing about 35,000 specimens mainly of flowering plants and fungi, including voucher collections and many ‘first county records’.
- Zoology, comprising about 32,000 specimens in total.
The geological ‘Old Collection’, also stemming from the 19th century collecting activities of the Warwickshire Natural History and Archaeological Society, consists of fossils, rocks and minerals that are essentially of worldwide provenance. The fossil collection has a strong British content and Warwickshire specimens (including important type-specimens of Triassic vertebrates) are well represented.
The Old Collections still form the bulk of the collection but all areas are being added to. Notable additions in recent decades include the Truslove Collection of minerals, the geological collections of North Warwickshire College, Leamington Museum and Mr David Hughes, and the fossil collection of Mr Peter Blake.
The collections total about 16,000 specimens made up of approximately 11,000 fossils, 4,000 minerals and 1,000 rocks.
Amongst our natural science collections, we have many fine examples of taxidermy from the celebrated local Spicer family, and spectacular and important fossils (including dinosaur remains and marine reptiles) from the local Triassic and Jurassic rocks.
The Market Hall Museum in Warwick currently has dedicated geology and natural history galleries. These demonstrate aspects of Warwickshire’s geological evolution, natural habitats across the county and associations with famous local naturalists and taxidermists.
In 2013 we will be moving our natural history, geology and archaeology collections to new stores within council premises approximately one mile from our current town centre location in Warwick. Much of the latter part of 2012 will be spent checking, packing and documenting collections held in our current store.
Dr Jon Radley AMA, Curator of Natural Sciences
t: 01926 412 500 e: email@example.com