A butterfly from the Parlett Collection
The natural history collection includes about 150,000 insect specimens which reflect the biodiversity and environment of Reading, Berkshire and neighbouring counties. The collection also reflects the interests of local collectors who donated specimens from elsewhere in Britain, Europe, India and Africa.
The Museum acquired its first entomology collection in 1883 when William Holland presented his Reading moths and butterflies. The Holland Collection has more historical interest than scientific value as he did not label the specimens with exactly where and when they were collected. Later collectors were more thorough, also donating their notebooks and journals.
Half of the collection consists of butterflies and moths, but beetles, bugs, flies, wasps, bees, ants, cockroaches, grasshoppers, earwigs, dragonflies and other groups are also represented. It is useful as a reference collection to help with identification and the specimens are biological records in their own right, with potential value for research into taxonomy and conservation. Many are also used for education and artistic inspiration. Anyone can view specimens by appointment. Microscopes and identification guides are available on request.
Date updated: 09 Mar 2012