Collections & Exhibitions

The BRLSI cares for an incredible museum, library, and archive collection. Our museum collection spans many disciplines: archaeology, ethnology, zoology, mineralogy, botany and palaeontology. The historic library is mostly focused upon the natural sciences, but also encompasses exploration, history, philosophy, and religion.

The collection evolved through the generosity of many hundreds of people connected with the city of Bath and many of the collectors’ stories are as intriguing as their donations. With so many narratives woven through the BRLSI Collection, it is bound, with careful curation and conservation, to remain a rich resource of learning and enjoyment for centuries to come. In the archives can be found every recorded aspect of the institution’s two centuries of inspiring learning for all, and amongst BRLSI’s most notable treasures are:

  • The exceptionally preserved Jurassic fossils of Strawberry bank, Ilminster
  • The correspondence, library, and collections of clergyman naturalist Leonard Jenyns, Charles Darwin’s lifelong friend
  • A 4.2-billion-year-old meteorite fragment (part of the first specimen ever determined to be of extra-terrestrial origin)

A team of volunteers with various specialisms and enthusiasms work alongside BRLSI collections manager, Matt Williams, to ensure the collection is secure, conserved, well-documented and accessible, not just to the people of Bath but for visitors from across the globe. It is now cared for better than it ever has been in its 200 year history. Although our collection is not currently on permanent display, we promote its use through annual thematic exhibitions and a dynamic programme of research. BRLSI also works with other institutions around the UK who hold parts of the collection on long term loan.

Each year the collections team make improvements in the packaging and storage of objects, but there remains a lot of work to do and that’s why the generosity of donors is always so much appreciated.

In 2016 BRLSI Collections became an Accredited Museum with the Arts Council England, and soon after BRLSI Directors proposed further development of their display facilities to make the BRLSI Collections more accessible to the public. Work towards achieving this goal of a permanent display is ongoing.

Currently volunteers are helping to broaden BRLSI’s cultural reach by researching objects for Google Arts and Culture, an online platform where worldwide cultural institutions can display high quality images of their treasures.

Punch Magazine cartoon about the threat to Turkey by the Russian Empire prior to the outbreak of the Crimean War

Crimean Relics-An Online Exhibition

CRIMEAN RELICSAn exhibition exploring aspects of the Crimean War through items held in the BRLSI collection. Satirical cartoons from Punch magazines bring themes from the war to life. Above: The…

And alongside browsing a selection of our collection items on the website and visiting the annual Summer exhibition in the BRLSI building, visitors can now make new discoveries by following us on Instagram. Our Instagram project #take5 features five images from our museum, library and archives, grouped by theme and is the perfect way to be with us in spirit even when you can’t be with us in person! If you can’t get to the collection then the collection can now get to you!

Follow us on Instagram