NHM, including the Spider Pavilion and Nature Gardens, is closed until further notice. View our COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for more information.

Our Collections

Collections status as of 7 January 2021

Due to the pandemic, most regular collections activity is suspended or significantly restricted.  Our collections staff are working remotely and can answer questions about our holdings via e-mail. You can also browse or search some of our collections online through our Digitized Collections page or through Calisphere, iDigBio, GBIF, VertNet, and other resources.  Please contact us at collections@nhm.org if your questions about the current status of our collections are not answered below.

Visitors: The collections at NHM and La Brea Tar Pits are currently closed to visitors.  We know that this is inconvenient and that an extended closure may cause delays for existing and planned research.  Please contact a collections manager or curator in your area of interest if you are concerned about our closure affecting your research, especially if you are a student or postdoc with a degree or project deadline that cannot be extended.  We may be able to provide options other than an in-person visit. 

Loans: Most regular collections loan activity is also suspended until further notice. In particular, please do not ship any collections material to us unless you have been specifically directed to do so by a registrar or collections manager. This includes new loans from your collection and returns of loans from our collection. We cannot guarantee that appropriate staff will be on-site to process incoming material that arrives without advance notice.

Outgoing loans are also generally suspended.  In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to make some loans if we can do so without compromising the safety of our staff or the preservation and security of our collections.

Please contact a collections manager or curator to find out whether your department of interest is processing any loans. If you request a loan, expect additional questions and restrictions depending on the status of operations at your institution.  Our priority for loans is to support students, postdocs, and others with a degree completion deadline or other time-sensitive project.

About our collections

We support our own and the rest of the world’s scholars by building and preserving an archive of objects, artifacts, and specimens from the natural world and human cultures, across the whole globe and from the present to billions of years ago. Our collections support current research and await future research uses no one has even thought of yet.

Sometimes we also use these objects, artifacts, and specimens in support of exhibitions and public programming, and visitors can see some of them on display, but those are not the primary purpose for the research collection.  It is an ever-growing record of nature and culture for anyone to use to better understand our world.

Coelacanth Fish
Coelacanth Fish
Did you know? Coelacanth fish “walk” on their fins like land animals use their legs.

Recent Acquisitions

Antique greenish glass bottle, partially encrusted with dirt, with a raised inscription reading "Dr A Boschee German Syrup"

Photo by Chris Coleman

This bottle is one of thousands of historical artifacts recovered during construction for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, just across the street from us in Exposition Park, and now part of our archaeology collection.  We're still processing this important collection, and we look forward to understanding what it can tell us about our own neighborhood!  Read more here about what glass bottles found during construction in Expo Park are already telling us about the history and development of medicine in Los Angeles.

Turaco specimens in a drawer in the bird collection.

Photo by Julia Wilde

We recently added a specimen of a turaco, a bird that is not an L.A. native.  Read more here about why this specimen is so exciting!

Stone sculpture of a tree frog

Photo by KT Hajeian

This Australian White-Lipped Tree Frog is one of 36 pieces recently donated to NHM by sculptor Lu Huan Wang. Read more here!

"October belongs to Coyote"  Navajo Basket

This basket is made of sumac that was gathered along desert streams in the Douglas Mesa of Utah by Navajo weaver, Betty Betsinnie Rock. According to the vendor (Twin Rocks Trading Post in Utah), “through elements of design, Betty’s basket represents the month of October. Because October belongs to Coyote, it is always a bit chaotic. Weather patterns are in flux, people are modifying their behavior in anticipation of winter, and the environment is adapting to cooler weather. Change is the keyword here. Betty’s basket expresses the mood with Coyote tracks all around and giant whirligig in the center. The red and white color scheme represents the change in light and character of the new season.”

Callistocypraea broderipii

Lindsey T. Groves, Malacology

Callistocypraea broderipii (Gray, 1832), from off Natal, South Africa (LACM 181358). This species was once one of the great rarities of the shell world until it's deep water habitat was discovered in the 1970's. Since then more specimens have been collected but it is still considered a rare species. This is the first specimen of this species in the Malacology collection.

1 of 1

This bottle is one of thousands of historical artifacts recovered during construction for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, just across the street from us in Exposition Park, and now part of our archaeology collection.  We're still processing this important collection, and we look forward to understanding what it can tell us about our own neighborhood!  Read more here about what glass bottles found during construction in Expo Park are already telling us about the history and development of medicine in Los Angeles.

Photo by Chris Coleman

We recently added a specimen of a turaco, a bird that is not an L.A. native.  Read more here about why this specimen is so exciting!

Photo by Julia Wilde

This Australian White-Lipped Tree Frog is one of 36 pieces recently donated to NHM by sculptor Lu Huan Wang. Read more here!

Photo by KT Hajeian

This basket is made of sumac that was gathered along desert streams in the Douglas Mesa of Utah by Navajo weaver, Betty Betsinnie Rock. According to the vendor (Twin Rocks Trading Post in Utah), “through elements of design, Betty’s basket represents the month of October. Because October belongs to Coyote, it is always a bit chaotic. Weather patterns are in flux, people are modifying their behavior in anticipation of winter, and the environment is adapting to cooler weather. Change is the keyword here. Betty’s basket expresses the mood with Coyote tracks all around and giant whirligig in the center. The red and white color scheme represents the change in light and character of the new season.”

Callistocypraea broderipii (Gray, 1832), from off Natal, South Africa (LACM 181358). This species was once one of the great rarities of the shell world until it's deep water habitat was discovered in the 1970's. Since then more specimens have been collected but it is still considered a rare species. This is the first specimen of this species in the Malacology collection.

Lindsey T. Groves, Malacology