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A label sat on top of lots of shell casts reads "shells cast by a lobster which lived in one of the museum tanks for nearly four years. The lobster died immediately after the completion of the fifth moult."

Study Collection Stores

The Study Collections Centre is the Horniman’s offsite storage facility which houses the majority of the Museum’s collections. 

Approximately 95% of the Anthropology and Natural History collections are stored in the Study Collections Centre (SCC), and 80% of the Musical Instrument collections. 

The site is currently staffed by the Collections Management and Knowledge & Information Management teams. Over the years we have endeavoured to improve the care, storage and documentation of the collections.

Since the SCC was acquired in the late 1960s, the level of storage has developed from a haphazard pile of objects to a well organised facility. The majority of objects stored using conservation-approved storage containers and techniques. 

The stored collections are very important as they provide material for research, temporary exhibitions and loans to other museums. They are frequently used by Horniman staff and the public for study and in publications.

If you are interested in viewing objects at the SCC, please see our access to collections policy and procedure:

Collections Access Policy

Procedure for access to Collections by external researchers

If you are interested in borrowing an object, please see our loans page and download the guidance and policy documents available there.

We do not run regular tours of the SCC. However, any tours that take place would be advertised in our what’s on pages and on our social channels.

Best practice for the long-term conservation and care of museum objects has evolved over time. Like most museums, the Horniman is dealing with a legacy of the past.

Keeping up with the day-to-day running of the SCC means that it can be difficult to deal with backlogs relating to storage and documentation.

Volunteers at the SCC assist with improving the storage and collections care, as well as making the collections more accessible for research and to the wider general public. Regular work undertaken by volunteers at the SCC includes:

  • Assisting with the rationalisation of the storage of the collections
  • Cleaning object record images for our collections database MIMSY
  • Assisting with documenting the collections
  • Retrieving and packing objects for conservation, exhibition, loan or special projects
  • Packing and storing objects on return from exhibitions etc

If you are interested in volunteering for the Horniman, please visit our volunteering pages.


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