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.  To learn more about the herbarium click Magnus Spence herbarium.pdf and to view and download the catalogue click Magnus Spence Herbarium List 2018 for ONHS.xlsx.

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.  A virtual volunteer is currenly working with us to catalogue the collection.

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. Click Seaweed collection index to view or download a collections index.

There is a comprehensive collection of Orkney shells held in the Museum by local naturalist Robert Rendall (1898 – 1967) who published Mollusca Orcadensia (The Sea Shells of Orkney) in 1956.  You can view or download the complete catalogue by clicking Robert Rendall shell collection index.  

Stromness Museum also holds a lepidoptera collection.  The main collection of moths and butterflies was the personal collection of R I (Ian) Lorimer (1919 – 1994).  The Lorimer collection is a comprehensive collection of moths and butterflies found in Orkney over a period of 30 years.   Click Lorimer Collection index to download a complete index of the Lorimer collection.

For more information of accessing these important collections, contact our Curator or Collections Manager.