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Collection Summary

Collection Title
Biology Collection
Plymouth has been associated with many outstanding naturalists, some of whose collections are in the city museum. The biology collection includes zoology and botany.

In the field of zoology, the museum has some 800 specimens of British birds, both mounted and cabinet skin specimens, representing 229 species on the British list. Many are specimens from the following collections: Elliot collection (19th century); Collier collection (1870-1905); Penrose collection (prior to 1914); Perks collection (1880-1890); Hingston collection (1897); Brooking Rowe collection (1909); and the Chichester collection (1933).

There are three major collections of butterflies and moths (lepidoptera). The Bignell collection is the most significant, and a strength. The Keys collection of British beetles (coleoptera) is of national importance and another strength of the collection. The collection of bees, wasps, ants, etc (hyneboptera) represents another hightly significant strength of the museum.

The museum also had herbaria representing some 1514 species of British flowering plants (angiosperms). There are two particularly notable collections, the T B Fisher (1817-1899) herbarium and the Thomas Bruce Flower herbarium of plants from Somerset and Wiltshire collected during the mid 19th century. There are also mosses and liverworts (bryophytes); and lichens collected throughout Devon.

The most important collection of lepidoptera in the museum is the George Carter Bignell (1826-1910) material. Bignell, a native of Devon, collected not only the adult of each species, but also the egg, larva and pupa, making the collection a particualrly valuable source of reference material.The Keys collection of British coleoptera (beetles) is magnificent in its size and comprehensiveness. James H Keys (1855-1941), a Plymothian, made many contributions to the understanding of beetles.George Carter Bignell, having amassed his collection of butterflies and moths, turned his attention to wasps, bees and ants (hymenoptera) and went to to contribute significantly to this science. Within 15 years he had collected 51 species new to England and 19 which were totally new discoveries. Outside the British Museum (Natural History) the Bignell collection of parasitic hymenoptera is one of the most important reference collections in the UK.
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Location Details

Plymouth City Museum And Art Gallery
Drake Circus Plymouth PL4 8AJ
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01752 304 774
01752 304 775 
Building Information
Grade II
Collections Overview
This museum is designated for the pre-eminent importance of the Cottonian art collection. Its other collections are both important and wide-ranging in content, as befits a city museum which has been in existence for more than a century.
Star Objects
The Cottonian collection.
For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

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