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Natural History Collection

Paisley Museum holds a significant Natural History collection that comprises more than 70,000 specimens. The singularity of the collection is to present jointly a global diversity of specimens and a focus on the British Isles. The collection covers mainly the following science areas:

  • Botany – including flowering plants, ferns and lichens
  • Geology – rocks, minerals and fossils
  • Zoology – including birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, insects, shells and corals

The collection includes specimens that range from tiny insects to large mammals and date from the Precambrian era more than 540 million years ago to the present. It also holds a large proportion of the moth, plant and carboniferous fossil collections that have a local, west, central Scotland focus.

Artworks displayed

Birds of America by John James Audubon – one of the most desirable and spectacular natural history books ever produced

"Carolina Parrot, Psitacus Carolinensis", Volume 1, Plate 26, John J. Audubon

A complete collection of the nine-volume American Ornithology by Alexander Wilson – This pioneering work was the first significant publication to attempt to scientifically document all the birds of North America, the result of which awarded Paisley born Wilson the international title of ‘Father of America Ornithology’. The Wilson material held by Paisley is surpassed only by Harvard University’s collection.

"Belted Kingfisher", American Ornithology, Bookplate 23, Alexander Wilson

Morris Young insect collection – Morris Young (1822 – 1897) was the first curator of the Paisley Museum and a respected specialist in beetles.

Tray of pinned British ground beetle specimens from the Carabidae family, Morris Young

Scottish Devonian fish fossils with specimens linked to notable collectors including Scotland’s pre-eminent geologist Hugh Miller.

Fossil collection – Dura Den Fish Fossils (Holoptychius sp.)

And of course, Buddie the lion, who came into the museum in 1929 and has been a favourite in the museum for over 90 years.

Buddy the lion

For more information on our Natural History collection, please contact our Natural History Curator Nicola MacIntyre