Support HOPE for the Future

HOPE for the Future is the Museum’s ambitious three-year project to protect and share its amazing British Insect Collection. ​​​​​​The project focuses on the intertwined heritage of our British Insect Collection and the Westwood Room.

The Westwood Room was once informally known as ‘Mr Hope’s Museum’ — a nod to Frederick William Hope, one of the founding collectors of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History in the 1840s. Hope’s Museum within a Museum became a favourite meeting place for naturalists, and Charles Darwin himself would call Frederick William Hope ‘my father in entomology’.

The British Insect Collection

The Museum's British Insect Collection represents all insect groups from butterflies to beetles and bees, and even flies and fleas. It is ‘Designated’ by Arts Council England as being of national and international importance.

The Collection spans almost the entire history of British entomology, representing extensive information on the biodiversity of Britain, documenting how it has changed during and after the Industrial Revolution. It offers an extraordinary window into the natural world with dozens of iconic species now considered extinct in the UK, including the large copper butterfly and blue stag beetle. The Collection is also home to many examples of the first British capture of certain insect species, including some unique specimens.

As public awareness of the climate and biodiversity crises increases, such museum collections are vital in understanding the extent of species loss and ecology damage.

Through investment from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with thanks to National Lottery players, we can preserve 200 years of natural heritage to be shared now and with future generations.

By the end of 2022 we will:

  • Rehouse and document over one million British insects alongside volunteers and visitors.
  • Design and deliver a wide-reaching learning and community programme at the Museum and beyond; developing skills and inspiring lifelong interest in the natural environment and conservation.
  • Restore and make accessible our historic Pre-Raphaelite-designed Westwood Room; creating new multi-purpose public spaces with displays looking at biodiversity, habitat loss, and the value of museum collections in documenting these changes and their impacts. 

Why Support Us?



These insect specimens, some over 200 years old, urgently need saving from pests, pinning rust, and the external environment. Our HOPE Collections team condition check the specimens, carefully add the original labels or relabel, transfer to new storage, and ensure the collection meets modern checklist standards for research and study. Your support means that more than one million insects can be saved for display, research, and learning. Rare and wonderful museum collections such as this are a vital information bank for understanding the climate and biodiversity crisis, and for understanding the extent of species loss and ecology damage.


insects at OUMNH

 Public Engagement

Preserving and cataloguing these insects collected across the UK from the 1800s means that we can continue to use them in the connected learning and community programme, inspiring the next generation of scientists and encouraging people to care more for the natural heritage on their doorsteps. Your support will enable us to run summer schools, Discovery Days and Entomologist Clubs with children and young people, as well as an outreach programme with families, grandparents and community elders – all encouraging thousands of people to appreciate and understand insects and their relationship to humans, other creatures and the environment.


Expert explaining about insects

 Westwood Room Restoration

HOPE for the Future will also restore and offer public access to the Westwood Room for the first time. The Westwood Room is a beautiful, historic and artistically important part of the Pre-Raphaelite history of the Museum which is underutilised, currently only accessible to Museum staff. Originally named ‘Mr Hope’s Museum’ after Frederick William Hope, a founding collector of this Museum in the 1840s, Hope’s Museum within a Museum became a favourite meeting place for naturalists. In fact, Charles Darwin called Hope ‘my father in entomology’. Your support will open the doors to the Westwood Room for all to enjoy insect-focused programmes and other popular Museum events.

westwood room oumnh

 Support HOPE today

Your support can help to protect this extraordinary collection and share it with the world. HOPE for the Future is generously supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Lottery Players, and the Museum still needs to raise part of the partnership funding. Gifts from visitors to the Museum and insect lovers around the world will ensure the Museum's ability to share the Collection with families, schools, and community groups.

marvellous moths





Watch: HOPE for the Future at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Watch: A Museum of Bugs