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Collection Summary

Collection Title
Biology Collection
The natural history collections are substantial and contain specimens of regional and national importance. The main part of the collection is of local origin and forms a valuable record of the changing local environmental conditions over the last two hundred years, charting the changes caused by the industrial revolution. There are 800 birds representing 320 British species. There are also regionally important collections of beetles and flies. Other invertebrate collections include 2,400 boxes of shells, notably the Taylor Collection of British land and freshwater molluscs. There is also a wide range of foreign mollusc shells. Associated biological material includes a library of over 2,000 reference books, some dating from the 18th century. In addition to current biological records, the museum holds 40,000 records dating back to the mid 19th century.
The largest part of the biology collection comprises the nationally important Baron collection of over 50,000 birds' eggs collected between 1900-1930. The worldwide butterflies and moths are the largest group of insects and include over 25,000 specimens collected between 1850-1980. The museum also serves as custodian to the Oldham Microscopical Society's Nield Herbarium. This collection comprises over 10,000 plants from Britain (many from Oldham), USA, Norway and Switzerland, many of which are no longer found in the original locations. The plants were collected mainly by local people over the past 130 years and are a valuable scientific record.
Date range of collection
01/01/1901 -
Accumulation Dates
Suggested Audience
Not Specific
Associated People or Organisations
Associated Times
This collection is about

Location Details

Gallery Oldham
Oldham Cultural Quarter Greaves Street Oldham OL1 1AL
Open Map
0161 911 4653
0161 911 4669 
Building Information
The Free Library, Art Gallery and Museum was established in 1883, in Union Street. In the 1930s the natural history collections were transferred for display at Werneth Park, following the bequest of a property by the Lees family, and remained there for over 40 years. Following moves again in the 1970s, the Art Gallery subsequently became established above the library, whilst the museum was in an adjacent building. These have now been replaced by Gallery Oldham; a new landmark building that opened in February 2002 in the Cultural Quarter in South Union Street.
Collections Overview
The large and varied collections include social and industrial history items, 19th-20th century fine art, British decorative art and contemporary artwork, archaeological artefacts, photographs and a large number of books, pamphlets and documents. There is also an extensive natural science collection, mainly zoology and botany, with smaller amounts of geology.
Display Overview
Gallery Oldham features an newly integrated museum and art gallery service in one building, exhibitions featuring Oldham's collection of fine and decorative art, social history and natural history, in addition to contemporary artwork, commissioned pieces, touring displays and work produced through local community projects. The museum serves as the recognised Biological Record Centre for Oldham and holds over 6,000 recording of local wildlife. It actively works with local volunteers to protect local species and habitats and is also planning to re-launch online a former 1960/70s natural history journal 'Athene.'
For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

Additional Collection Information

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Management Information (Type)
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Collection Creator(s)
Collection Collector(s)
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