Research Collections

Some of our Natural History collections are so significant that they are available to view by appointment only.

These include Magnus Spence’s Herbarium, a collection of over 900 plants, algae and bryophytes gathered in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mostly in Orkney. This important collection was reorganised by another eminent Orkney botanist, Henry Halcro-Johnston in the 1920s, when the plants were re-labelled according to the nomenclature of his time. A herbarium catalogue has been compiled by John Crossley, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) Vice-county Recorder for Orkney.

Archive box. Image © Stromness Museum.
Research collection. Image © Stromness Museum.

We also hold the unique collection of about 4,000 rockslides and associated hand specimens of Ted Kellock, an amateur geologist and naturalist who collected mainly igneous and metamorphic rocks from Orkney, Shetland, Scotland and worldwide. He cut, prepared, ground and mounted his specimens as microscope thin sections on equipment designed and built by himself.

The Museum also holds approximately 390 specimens of pressed seaweed collected between 1839 and 1962. These were collected by several key naturalists including Robert Rendall, George William Traill, Rev. John H Pollexfen, and George Ellison. The collections were digitised as part of a UK-wide project and can be accessed by visiting Seaweed Collections Online and searching for ‘STS’ in the ‘Institution’ field.

For more information of accessing these important collections, contact