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We care for around 4.5 million spectacular objects from natural sciences and human cultures.

Our collections

Manchester Museum is one of the UK’s largest university museums. We are home to around 4.5 million objects across a wide range of collections including: Egypt and Sudan, Archaeology, Earth Sciences, Entomology, Archery, Botany, Living Cultures, Zoology, Numismatics, and the Vivarium.

Our outstanding collection of Egyptian and Sudanese objects – one of the largest in the UK – illustrates both everyday life and preparations for the afterlife. The homes of the ancient Egyptians do not generally survive, but our collection includes exceptionally well-preserved everyday objects from a pyramid-builders’ town known as Kahun which are nearly 4,000 years old and give a glimpse into how ordinary people lived. The museum also houses an important collection of gilded mummy masks and realistic painted images known as ‘Faiyum Portraits’, dating back to the Graeco-Roman Period (around 300 BCE to 300 CE).

The Vivarium is recognised worldwide for its conservation work. A recent success story, and a landmark moment in the museum’s history, was the captive breeding of the variable harlequin toad (also known as Atelopus varius). The breeding of the variable harlequin toad is the result of an inspiring partnership project between the museum, Panama Wildlife Conservation charity (PWCC) and the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health at the University of Manchester.

We also care for a collection of around 100,000 fossils, including one of the most important collections of Ice Age animals in Europe, particularly from Creswell Crags, which has helped transform our understanding of climate change.

With an estimated 2.5 million specimens, Manchester Museum’s Entomology collection is thought to be the third largest entomological depository in the UK. As well as housing a comprehensive collection of British insects of all groups, highlights also include the collection of tortoise-beetles which is the second best in the world; the collection of earwigs containing almost a half of the species described worldwide; the collection of butterflies and moths, including the comprehensive collection of the swallowtail butterflies accounting for almost 90% of the world fauna, and a significant worldwide collection of spiders.

Our world class collections are used in our exhibitions and displays to tell extraordinary stories and inspire curiosity and wonder. The unique objects, specimens and archives housed at the museum are also actively used for innovative research, teaching, outreach, public programmes, and to inspire art and creative projects.

We are working on a new Collections Search that will provide a substantially improved user experience and this will be available soon. At the same time, we’re creating a new research studio and associated displays, as well as improved lecture and seminar spaces. Collection data is also provided for inclusion within the national and international projects of Herbaria@Home and GBIF.

Find out more about the services we offer here.

Research and collaborations

We are first and foremost a university museum and we use our collections for cutting-edge research, collaborating with peers and communities locally and globally. Our new galleries are shaped by inspiring research projects.

Learn more about our research projects

Future of collections

We are becoming more inclusive, caring and relevant to the communities we serve.

Find out more about the future of collections

Staff research profiles

The museum is made up of lots of amazing people.

Find out more about our curatorial team

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