Virtual library

Turn the pages of virtual books from the world’s largest natural history library.

Read parts of ground-breaking works like On the Origin of Species or browse images of pressed flowers collected by 16th century explorers, all from the comfort of your own computer.

Even today, these important natural history materials continue to help Museum scientists classify species and understand the natural world. Take a browse through these virtual books below. 

  • An illustration from the HMS Challenger Report, showing a specimen collected on the voyage
    HMS Challenger Report

    Examine drawings of some of the specimens collected by the crew of HMS Challenger as you browse the original report from the expedition.

  • A herbarium sheet
    Herbarium sheets

    Leaf through herbarium sheets full of pressed flowers and other plants.  These historical collections were brought back to the Museum by explorers hundreds of years ago.

  • A page from Darwin's On the Origin of Species
    On the Origin of Species

    Darwin's ground-breaking work On the Origin of Species introduced the idea of evolution by natural selection and changed the way scientists think about the natural world.  Read extracts from the book.

  • An extract from The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
    The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals

    Follow Darwin's comparison of human and animal expressions in these extracts from his book.

Cartoon image of a stegasaurus disappearing through closing door

With our shark experts, Speedo developed a super-fast swimsuit – its special fabric mimics the microscopic features of sharks’ skin.