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Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions: Biosciences Collections

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Bioscience Collection

Durham University’s Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions team are responsible for the care and management of the Department of Biological Sciences’ small but significant collections of natural specimens. Once part of the Bioscience Department's teaching materials, this collection comprises of skeletal material, antler heads, taxidermy, entomology, oology, a spirit collection and an herbarium. This collection contains items from around the world and tells important narratives about the history of flora and fauna in the region too.

Taxidermy and Skeletal

Of particular significance is the Whitehead collection, which focuses mainly upon the family of Cervidae. Formed by the naturalist, deer stalker and author Kenneth Whitehead (1913-2004), the biological specimens are supplemented by an important associated archive and library managed by the University’s Archives and Special Collections. The Whitehead Deer Collection contains animals from England, but also specimens from Thailand, India, and South America.

There are other skeletal remains, some from the Whitehead Collection and some from the original 19th century museum and later teaching collection. There is also a range of taxidermy, including in the Victorian style of re-creating naturalist scenes.


This collection contains specimens curated by significant researchers such as Margaret Bradshaw, Charles Babbington, T.T Elkington and David Bellamy. The herbarium contains important local flora, particularly those of the Tees Valley collected by Margaret Bradshaw, and represents countries such as Malaysia, Canada, Greenland, the USA, and even the province of Svalbard.

Entomology, Organics, Oology and Plant Fossils

We have a varied collection of specimens, from butterflies to eggs to fossils of plants. There are some 19th century collector specimens, and some from the department’s teaching and handling collection.


Item from the biosciences collection at Durham University