Virtual tour - Biology store

Take a virtual tour behind the scenes in the Great North Museum's Biology store.

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Welcome to the main Biology store. This is where we keep most of the museum's vertebrate specimens. It's a huge collection of over 10,000 individual items, including mammals, reptiles, fish and a huge number of birds.

Most of the animals have been preserved as various kinds of taxidermy. You're probably familiar with stuffed animals and we have lots of those, but we also have a large number of 'study skins.' These are whole animal skins that are preserved flat so that we can store them together in drawers and they fill many of the large storage units you can see here. Scientists can still use these specimens to learn about the animals they belonged to, even though they look a little strange.

The mounts and skins come from all over the world. We have specimens that were collected in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand, as well as lots from the local area.

Collectors of curious creatures

Image: a variety of animal taxidermy specimens in the Biology store

The very oldest specimens were collected and stuffed over 200 years ago, but a large proportion of them are a little more recent. The Victorian period was a golden age of collecting, huge numbers of specimens entered the collections from the expanding empire as people sought to catalogue and classify the world’s living things. This is reflected in the many specimens we have that date to this period. However, collectors and scientists from the North East have continued to add to the collection right up until the present day.

As you might expect for such a large and diverse collection, it includes many rare and unique specimens that can be found nowhere else in the world. A journey through the collection not only reveals a wealth of fascinating objects and stories, but helps us to understand the history of our corner of the world, and the growth in our understanding of life on earth.

Continue your journey

Click on the links below to take another virtual tour.