Natural History

Our natural history collection consists of more than 200,000 biological and geological specimens. The Green Space gallery displays rocks, fossils, insects, animal and plant specimens, to show how Reading’s environment has evolved over millions of years into the landscape we see today. The displays also reflect the biodiversity of the Reading area and the interests of local collectors going back to 1883.

Highlights include an impressive red deer stag presented by King George V from Windsor Great Park in 1911, together with a hind and a calf. The deer were mounted by the famous taxidermy firm Rowland Ward of London, who were specialists in big game trophies.

The entomology collection contains about 150,000 insects from Britain, Europe, India and Africa - over half are butterflies and moths but beetles, flies, bees and wasps, grasshoppers, dragonflies and other groups are represented. Local donors also collected plants, shells, corals, rocks, minerals and fossils from Britain and overseas.