Natural History

Shetland Museum has a small natural sciences collection, strong in the areas of geology and botany. There are type collections of minerals, plants and lichens. All these are comprehensive, and have been assembled by individual specialists.

We do not have naturalists within our staff, so depend on scientists who have worked and collected in the islands, and who later donate assemblages to us.

It is hoped that in future we can build other collections, such as shells and insects. We also have historic specimens of birds and eggs, showing the work of local collectors. The natural sciences collection is small outside the two main areas, although there are diverse specimens found in peat moor or from beaches.

The Museum has relationships with local geologists and botanists who we can call on for specialist advice. Emphasis today in Shetland is on studying species within their own habitats.

In this respect, we work closely with our Natural Heritage colleagues at Shetland Amenity Trust. The Biological Records database maintained by the Trust contains almost a quarter of a million records which is extremely valuable information for researchers, naturalists and those with an interest in natural history.

The Trust also manage Geopark Shetland, which promotes and celebrates Shetland’s diverse geological makeup and is a member of the UNESCO Global Geopark Network and European Geoparks Network.