Museum profiles

Welcome to our project which aims to gather, analyse and share data on the seaweed species of the British Isles by mobilising collections data from a network of national and regional museums.

Booth Museum of Natural History BMB

The Booth Museum holds the designated natural history collections of the Royal Pavilion & Brighton Museum. The herbarium section contains algal samples contained in albums, slides and wet specimens, mostly acquired during the 19th and 20th Century. These historical archives are occasionally added to by local groups and researchers.

Museum code: BMB
Collections webpage
Manchester Museum MANCH

The Manchester Museum holds around 14,000 herbarium sheets of seaweeds and a further 25 books of exsiccatae. It is a historic collection with the majority of the specimens dating from the between 1860s to the 1920s. The collection includes material from the herbaria of James C. Melvill, Samuel O. Gray, Caroline Birley, Thomas Hick, Dr. Gotlieb L. Rabenhorst and Prof. Walter Migula. Other notable collectors include Kathleen Drew-Baker, Eyre de Crespigny and Mary Wyatt.

Museum code: MANCH
Collections webpage
National Museum Wales NMW

National Museum Wales’s seaweed collection consists mainly of mainly British material and contains around 422 species, representing two thirds of all British seaweeds. Within the collections, there are representatives of some UK Biodiversity Action Plan seaweed species, for example Anotrichium barbatum (a red seaweed) and Phymatolithon calcareum (a coralloid red seaweed). The largest single collection of seaweeds at NMW is that of 1131 specimens purchased from E.M. Holmes in 1922.

Museum code: NMW
Collections webpage
National Museums Liverpool

The Algal collections at World Museum (National Museums Liverpool(LIV)) consist of around 9,000 specimens. LIV houses historical material from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and is actively expanding its contemporary collections.

Museum code: LIV
Collections webpage
Natural History Museum, London

The NHM algal herbarium holds:

  • important historical material from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries
  • expanding contemporary collections
  • some of the earliest specimens held in the Museum, dating back to the 17th century

Museum code: BM
Collections webpage
Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service NCH

The NCH herbarium includes seaweed material from the mid 1800's to more contemporary collections of the 1970's, mostly originating from the English south and east coast. 

Museum code: NCH
Collections webpage
Oxford University Herbaria OXF

There are approximately 10,000 marine and freshwater algal specimens in Oxford University Herbaria ( collected from the mid-17th century to the mid-20th century. The collection is dominated by British and Irish collections but there are significant collections from the eastern Mediterranean, Australia and the Pacific.

Museum code: OXF
Collections webpage
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery PLHNH

PLHNH holds the herbarium of Sir John St. Aubyn which dates from 1793 to 1803 and includes seaweed collections. This collection has been digitised and can be viewed online.  The main PLHNH contains seaweed material primarily from around the Plymouth area, mostly of Victorian origin.  

Museum code: PLHNH
Collections webpage
Plymouth Marine Biological Association MBA

The MBA seaweed herbarium was initially assembled by Dr Mary Parke in the 1940s from various collections at the MBA and from her own material. This has been added to steadily up to the mid-1980s by various phycologists either working at, or visiting, the MBA. The earliest material in the collection is from the 1830s from a number of collectors but most of the material collected since 1950 has been added by Dr Parke or Dr Gerald Boalch.

Museum code: MBA
Collections webpage
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The algae collection at the present time contains over 25,000 specimens which includes over 10,000 British collections and a small bottle collection (nearly 500 specimens). The oldest specimen is a Scottish red alga collected in 1779 by Archibald Menzies. The British algae collectors in Victorian times worked extensively in the Devon and Dorset region and Mrs Amelia Warren Griffiths was one of several lady collectors working in this area. Orkney was a collectors dream with people like Dr John Hutton Pollexfen and later in the 1930s and 1940s with J. Sinclair.

Museum code: E
Collections webpage
Shetland Museum and Archives ZCM

Shetland Museum holds a collection of 51 seaweed specimens, collected from Shetland in the 1950s to 1970s, mostly by David Irvine. 

Museum code: ZCM
Collections webpage
Somerset Heritage Service TTN

The TTN collection includes a Victorian seaweed booklet prepared by Mrs Fothergill; two volumes of Algae Damoniensis (prepared by Mary Wyatt) and a Miss Gifford collection made between 1844 and 1886. 

Museum code: TTN
Collections webpage
Stromness Museum STS

The Stromness Museum holds seaweed specimens collected by:

  • Polloxfen
  • George Ellison 
  • Robert Rendall
  • Alec Lawrence
  • Mrs A. Miller
  • Traill

Museum code: STS
Collections webpage
The Essex Field Club LDPEM

The Essex Field Club Seaweed Collection comprises over 500 herbarium sheets, the material being collected mainly between 1830 and 1870 with minor additions up to 1910. The two principle herbaria are those of Dr Anthony Southby and Mr E. G. Varenne. Southby's specimens are mainly from Jersey but with some from around the British coastline and from Australia. Varenne's specimens were collected from various locations around Britain. The post 1870 additions to the collection are mainly from the Orwell and Stour estuaries.

Museum code: LDPEM
Collections webpage
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith