There is an astonishing variety of zoological material in RAMM’s collection. Geographically it ranges from Antarctica to the Antipodes, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe to the Arctic. The species represented are just as varied. The most important zoology collections include the insects, molluscs, birds and echinoderms. It also includes RAMM’s iconic and much loved mascot Gerald the Giraffe.
Exploring the zoology collection
Many specimens are on display at RAMM. Yet due the sheer size of the collection it is not possible to display it all at once. If you wish to view a stored collection for research purposes please contact RAMM’s Collections Officer. Or browse a selection of items on Collections Explorer.
The attractive external shells of land and aquatic molluscs have attracted many a Victorian collector. As a result RAMM has some beautiful examples. The majority are dry specimens and still in their original boxes.
- Colonel George Montagu (1753 – 1815) – In January 2020 Arts Council England awarded the Montagu Collection Designated status. This mark of distinction recognises the collection’s international significance to the scientific community. It is the most intact and taxonomically important collection of British shells of the early 19th century (1800-1816) anywhere in the UK. Many are type specimens.
- Miss JE Linter (1844-1909) – Over 15,000 lands snails that were donated to RAMM in 1909. Some are now very rare or even extinct and many are very attractive
- Miss Florence Jewell – collection of foreign marine shells.
- Lieutenant George Peard – collected during his voyage of discovery on HMS Blossom.
- JT Carrington – collection of UK land snail shells including examples of banding patterns.
RAMM has a large and diverse collection of birds. The ‘In Fine Feather‘ gallery shows as stunning selection of over 140 birds from the collection. Specimens are also displayed in ‘Finder’s Keepers?‘ and ‘Making History‘. Look closely and you’ll find bird feathers used in costume, textiles objects and world cultures objects all over the museum.
Birds were especially popular with Victorian collectors. RAMM has a collection of over 12,000 taxidermy mounts, skins, skeletons, eggs and nests from all around the world. Many are very rare in the wild and some are even extinct. Watch taxidermist Jazmine Miles-Long preparing a sora rail specimen for RAMM in this short video.
Notable collectors include:
- Solomon Caesar Malan: expert linguist, and egg collector
- Alfred Russel Wallace: a specimen from his travels in the Malay Archipelago
- Patrick Hall Maxwell
- John Murphy: specimens from the Leichhardt Expedition (1844-45)
- John and Charles Enys: moa bones from New Zealand
Microscope slides and Echinoderms
Echinoderms are a group of invertebrates that includes starfish, sea urchins, feather stars, sand dollars and other related creatures. Most of RAMM’s starfish and sea urchins are from Percy Sladen‘s collection. They can be seen in the Sladen’s Study gallery. The collection of echinoderms attracts researchers from around the world. It is believed to be the largest and most comprehensive echinoderm collection outside the Natural History Museum, London.
One of RAMM’s hidden treasures is the collection of around 7000 microscope slides. Many are Victorian. They are is unique insight into a strange and colourful world that had previously been invisible to the naked eye. Slides include botanical, zoological and geological specimens. One of the most important collections is that of Drs WB and PH Carpenter which came to RAMM via Percy Sladen.
The size and quality of our collections is largely thanks to the dedication of Major Bertie Gay and Anthony Adams who painstakingly sorted the specimens into consolidated collections that were arranged in taxonomic order. RAMM has over 120,000 butterfly and moth specimens. It is one of the finest, most extensive and scientifically valuable collections of any provincial museum in the country. It includes eggs, larvae, pupae and adults.
Notable collectors include
- Frank Lees: British butterflies and moths
- Edward Studd: British butterflies and moths
- Reverend Hellins: British butterflies and moths
- Philip Le Hardy de la Garde: beetles
- John Reading: beetles
- SG Rendel: beetles
- Louis Audcent: flies
RAMM’s large and impressive mounted specimens include the tiger, presented by King George V, the polar bear