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.

Inglefield’s Africa Revisited

West Africa and Britain through one man’s collection Inglefield’s Africa Revisited was a 2014 exhibition produced in partnership with Jana De Brabant, an MA student studying Curatorial Practice at Bath…
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Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the Southern shores of South America, and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe / [edited by R. Fitzroy].

Mr Darwin’s Fishes-A Collections Film

Mr Darwin’s Fishes. Mr. Darwin’s Fishes was displayed in the Jenyns room in 2009 as part of BRLSI’s very successful Darwin and Beyond programme, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the…
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Crimean Relics-An Online Exhibition

CRIMEAN RELICSThe Russian ‘bear’ embraces Turkey, centre of the Ottoman Empire. Nicholas I, the Tsar, had been speculating for some time about a partition of the Ottoman Empire. Britain and…
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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

What would your dragon trap look like? Kids activities at #BRLSI between 1&3pm every monday, tuesday and wednesday of the school holidays.🐲
#KidsinBath #FamilyFriendlyBath

What would your dragon trap look like? Kids activities at #BRLSI between 1&3pm every monday, tuesday and wednesday of the school holidays.🐲
#KidsinBath #FamilyFriendlyBath

4 days ago
View on Instagram |
1/9
See what's coming up in our new season programme of events...
https://www.brlsi.org/whats-on/
#bathspa #cityofbath #talks #events  #programme #whatsoninbath #brlsi #queensquare  #literature #arts #science #music #walkthecity #bathuniversity #students @bathfestival @bathmagazine @bathmuseum @bathlife @pukkabath @bathandwiltshire @herschelmuseum #herschel #astronomy

See what's coming up in our new season programme of events…

UPCOMING TALKS AND EXHIBITIONS

#bathspa #cityofbath #talks #events #programme #whatsoninbath #brlsi #queensquare #literature #arts #science #music #walkthecity #bathuniversity #students @bathfestival @bathmagazine @bathmuseum @bathlife @pukkabath @bathandwiltshire @herschelmuseum #herschel #astronomy

6 days ago
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2/9
🦄Our craft days are continuing throughout the summer holidays! Starting next week, pop in on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday between 1-3pm to join in. Help a unicorn see in the dark, catch a dragon, or create a beastly flip book! You can also see our family exhibition, 'Beyond Beastly: Creatures Natural and Imagined' which offers something for all ages! 
#beyondbeastly #childrenscrafts #dragon #activities #museum #Bath #summerholidays #summerevents #whatsoninbath #family #exhibition #fossils

🦄Our craft days are continuing throughout the summer holidays! Starting next week, pop in on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday between 1-3pm to join in. Help a unicorn see in the dark, catch a dragon, or create a beastly flip book! You can also see our family exhibition, 'Beyond Beastly: Creatures Natural and Imagined' which offers something for all ages!

#beyondbeastly #childrenscrafts #dragon #activities #museum #Bath #summerholidays #summerevents #whatsoninbath #family #exhibition #fossils

1 week ago
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3/9
Keep up to date with our world class talks program, wonderful exhibitions and cultural events for all ages...
#brlsi #newsletter #signup #talks #events #news #families #children #students #youngbrlsi #Bath #heritage #literature #science #arts #philosophy #psychology

Keep up to date with our world class talks program, wonderful exhibitions and cultural events for all ages…

#brlsi #newsletter #signup #talks #events #news #families #children #students #youngbrlsi #Bath #heritage #literature #science #arts #philosophy #psychology

2 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
4/9
🦄Help a unicorn see in the dark, catch a dragon, or create a beastly flip book! Join us for children's craft activities tomorrow 1st August from 1pm-3pm, and see our family exhibition, 'Beyond Beastly: Creatures Natural and Imagined' which offers something for all ages! 
#beyondbeastly #childrenscrafts #dragon #activities #museum #Bath #summerholidays #summerevents #whatsoninbath #family #exhibition #fossils #history #mythicalcreatures #unicorn #dragons

🦄Help a unicorn see in the dark, catch a dragon, or create a beastly flip book! Join us for children's craft activities tomorrow 1st August from 1pm-3pm, and see our family exhibition, 'Beyond Beastly: Creatures Natural and Imagined' which offers something for all ages!

#beyondbeastly #childrenscrafts #dragon #activities #museum #Bath #summerholidays #summerevents #whatsoninbath #family #exhibition #fossils #history #mythicalcreatures #unicorn #dragons

2 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
5/9
Myth is dominated by the transformation of man to mythical beast. #AncientGreek #mythology is rich in accounts of serpents as adversaries of heroes or gods. Think of Ovid’s myth of Cadmus where the slain #Serpent’s teeth sown into the ground grow to become armed men. 
On this #Corinthian alabastron, made around 600 BC two sphinxes flank a sinuous snake. For more fantastic objects like this please visit us at Queen Square or at www.brlsi.org
#collections #museums #brlsi #BathRoyal #WorldHeritageSite #VisitBath #GeorgianCity

Myth is dominated by the transformation of man to mythical beast. #AncientGreek #mythology is rich in accounts of serpents as adversaries of heroes or gods. Think of Ovid’s myth of Cadmus where the slain #Serpent’s teeth sown into the ground grow to become armed men.

On this #Corinthian alabastron, made around 600 BC two sphinxes flank a sinuous snake. For more fantastic objects like this please visit us at Queen Square or at www.brlsi.org

#collections #museums #brlsi #BathRoyal #WorldHeritageSite #VisitBath #GeorgianCity

2 weeks ago
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6/9
Tonight! If you've just come out from the @pumproombath then you might be interested to find out more about the  #Romans in #Somerset? In 2010 a huge hoard of #Roman coins was discovered near #Frome. More than 750 of the #coins were minted during the reign of a little-known Roman ruler of Britain in the mid-3rd century AD: Marcus Aurelius Carausius. Join historian #SimonElliott as he illuminates you on spectacular rise of #RomanBritainsPirateKing.
Mon 25 July 7:30 pm 🎟 £2-5
Tickets in Bio
 #BathWorldHeritage

Tonight! If you've just come out from the @pumproombath then you might be interested to find out more about the #Romans in #Somerset? In 2010 a huge hoard of #Roman coins was discovered near #Frome. More than 750 of the #coins were minted during the reign of a little-known Roman ruler of Britain in the mid-3rd century AD: Marcus Aurelius Carausius. Join historian #SimonElliott as he illuminates you on spectacular rise of #RomanBritainsPirateKing.

Mon 25 July 7:30 pm 🎟 £2-5

Tickets in Bio

#BathWorldHeritage

3 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
7/9
Not going away this summer? The #BRLSI video archive has over 200 hours of lectures and talks.
https://www.youtube.com/c/BathRoyalLiteraryandScientificInstitution

Not going away this summer? The #BRLSI video archive has over 200 hours of lectures and talks.

https://www.youtube.com/c/BathRoyalLiteraryandScientificInstitution

3 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
8/9
👹There are still a few remaining tickets for our day of #BeyondBeastly talks tomorrow on #mythicalbeasts. The first speaker is our collections manager, Matt Williams at 10am. Followed by three more fascinating talks by speakers Professor Mike Benton, Dr Nicky Lloyd and Andreas Wasmuht who will be delving into dinosaurs, gothic literature and the origin of mythical creatures.
Join us IN PERSON at Queen Square or ONLINE for 4 talks on Saturday 23rd July 10am-6pm 
Tickets 🎟 £10-20 https://www.brlsi.org/whatson/beyond-beastly-symposium/ 
#mythicalbeasts #mythicalbeast  #goodmythicalmorning #mythical #mythicalcreatures #goodmythicalmore #goodmythicalsummer  #Bath #mythological #mythology #mythologicalcreatures #greekmythology  #fantasy #magic  #history #mythologie #mythicalcreatures #folklore #mythical #ancienthistory #mythos #world #philosophy #mind #psychology

👹There are still a few remaining tickets for our day of #BeyondBeastly talks tomorrow on #mythicalbeasts. The first speaker is our collections manager, Matt Williams at 10am. Followed by three more fascinating talks by speakers Professor Mike Benton, Dr Nicky Lloyd and Andreas Wasmuht who will be delving into dinosaurs, gothic literature and the origin of mythical creatures.

Join us IN PERSON at Queen Square or ONLINE for 4 talks on Saturday 23rd July 10am-6pm
Tickets 🎟 £10-20 https://www.brlsi.org/whatson/beyond-beastly-symposium/

#mythicalbeasts #mythicalbeast #goodmythicalmorning #mythical #mythicalcreatures #goodmythicalmore #goodmythicalsummer #Bath #mythological #mythology #mythologicalcreatures #greekmythology #fantasy #magic #history #mythologie #mythicalcreatures #folklore #mythical #ancienthistory #mythos #world #philosophy #mind #psychology

3 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
9/9