Museums & Gardens

The School of Biological Sciences is host to three important facilities. In addition to playing an important role for our students and staff, each organises outreach events for local people, school children and other groups. 

The Cole Museum of ZoologyExhibit at the Cole museum

The Cole Museum is over 100 years old. It holds a large collection of specimens from every important animal group. Highlights include the complete skeleton of an Indian elephant, fossil invertebrates and displays on the biodiversity of Whiteknights Park. The Cole Museum is open during working hours and there is no charge for visiting. If you wish to bring a group, please contact the curator; her contact details are found on the Cole Museum website.


The Herbarium (RNG) is a research and teaching facility, containing around 300 000 specimens of flowering plants, conifers, cycads, ferns, lycophytes and non-vascular plants. The Herbarium was founded in 1900, and receives visitors and requests for identification help from all over the world. We have especially good collections of plants from Europe and the Mediterranean, temperate South America and the UK. The herbarium is used to teach a range of undergraduate modules, to support the MSc in Plant Diversity and MSc in Species Identification and Survey Skills.  It is a major research resource and has a high proportions of modern specimens that have been used for DNA extraction.

News on Herbarium Activities is published via the RNG Herbarium Facebook site.  Plant Diversity on campus is reported in the Whiteknights Biodiversity Blog.

For further details, contact the curator, Dr Alastair Culham.

The Herbarium and Plant Identification Service website is about to be updated.

Harris Garden

The Harris GardensThe Harris Garden is set in the home paddock of 'The Wilderness', a Victorian house (now demolished), built in the famous landscape garden created at White Knights by George, Marquis of Blandford (later 5th Duke of Marlborough) between 1798 and 1819.
A botanic garden with adjacent experimental grounds was established by the University in 1972 when the Department of Botany moved from London Road to Whiteknights. The new garden occupies about 12 acres (5 ha.). The garden is still in the early stages of development and its brief history has been marked by two major storms, a drought and a plague of rabbits! Despite many setbacks, though, new planting is proceeding apace and the garden plan is rapidly taking shape. We hope, therefore, that visitors will derive much interest in seeing what is happening as well as enjoying the existing garden.  Find out more about the Harris Garden

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