Swindon Museum was originally founded to hold the geology collection developed by Charles Gore. His large collection of mainly British and European samples is still held by the museum with examples on permanent display.
This collection has been added to over the years to create a large and diverse representation of geological specimens including the fossil and mineral collection of William Morris, a local antiquary, geologist and founder of the Swindon Advertiser newspaper. There are also several reference fossil collections, such as the Blackmore Collection acquired in the 1920’s.
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery has significant collections of local fossils. This excellent collection is the result of the diverse geology in and around Swindon, including Kimmeridge and Oxford Clays, Purbeck and Portland Beds. In the 1970’s we acquired the complete skeletons of the ‘Welcome Avenue Ichthyosaur’ and the ‘Cambria Bridge Pliosaur’ and these can both be seen in our Natural World Gallery.
The museum also retains a number of 19th and 20th century collections representing both local and exotic flora and fauna. These include the extensive Todd Herbarium, Wiltshire Mollusca (land snails) collected by C D Heginbotham and exotic sea shells donated by Miss Philpott.
We hold a collection of natural history specimens, the most famous of which is our gharial (crocodile), one of our most loved exhibits. The gharial is part of our taxidermy collection, which includes a range of mammals, fish, reptiles, birds and lepidoptera.
With the exception of the gharial, most of the natural history collections are cared for in store and are only displayed in temporary exhibitions. The collections may also be consulted for research purposes.