Sir Hans Sloane’s fantastic collection helped found the Natural History Museum. In addition to his own herbarium, which consists of 800 carefully catalogued plant specimens in seven volumes, he also grew the collection by acquiring herbariums from others. Picture courtesy of the Natural History Museum.

We’ll meet up by the Natural History Museum’s Queen’s Gate entrance.

We’ll also see the exhibition “Expeditions and Endeavours”, which in January will, among other things, show drawings of koalas, made by Ferdinand Bauer during the HMS Investigator voyage along the coast of Australia 1801-1803. Bauer has been called “the Leonardo of natural history illustration“.

A unique chance to see the Sloane Herbarium

Monday 21 January 2019, 6.30pm to 8:30pm

Natural History Museum, Queen’s Gate entrance

Our first event for 2019 is a really special evening at the Natural History Museum where we will be able to visit the Sloane Herbarium.

This is an exceptional collection, assembled by Sir Hans Sloane who, as a young man, travelled to Jamaica, where he during two years explored extensively and collected specimens of plant and animal life. This precious collection of 800 plant specimens, the first to be brought back from the Caribbean, along with animals and curiosities, is still in an incredibly good condition.

Hans Sloane was born in 1660 in Ulster. In his youth he collected objects of natural history and other curiosities. This made him want to study medicine, so he went to London where he studied botany, materia medica, surgery and pharmacy. After four years in London he travelled through France, spending some time at Paris and Montpellier, and stayed long enough at the University of Orange-Nassau to take his MD degree there in 1683.

In 1685 he was elected to the Royal Society, and in 1687 he sailed to Jamaica with its newly appointed lieutenant governor, Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albemarle. Beside acting as the duke’s personal physician, he spent the following 15 months visiting several islands and collected numerous plant specimens and other items, before the 35 year-old duke suddenly died, which put an end to Sloane’s stay there.

On his return to Britain, Sloane set up a medical practice in Bloomsbury where he acquired a wealthy and aristocratic clientele. Being an innovative doctor he promoted inoculation against smallpox, the use of quinine to fight malaria and the value of drinking hot chocolate with milk. He continued to collect, acquiring the collections of others. In 1716 he was created a baronet, in 1719 he became president of the College of Physicians and in 1727 president of the Royal Society. The same year he became first physician to George II.

In 1742 he and his collections moved to Chelsea, where he is commemorated by Sloane Square and Hans Crescent. He died in 1753 and is buried in Chelsea Old Church. His will left the entire collection to the nation, thus providing the foundation of the Natural History Museum. The collection is regularly consulted by scientists, artists and others, and the museum is committed to preserving it and making it accessible for future generations, just as Sloane had intended.

On arrival at the Queen’s Gate entrance to the Natural History Museum, we will be taken to the Images of Nature gallery where we will enjoy a drinks and nibbles reception. 

Alternating groups will then be taken on a tour of the Sloane Herbarium, led by Dr Fred Rumsey, senior curator in charge of Historical Collections, while the others have an opportunity to view a new exhibition: “Expeditions and Endeavours”. This is a collection of artworks in the Images of Nature gallery, which is changing every four months. From November 2018 to March 2019 it will display flora and fauna from all three of Captain Cook’s voyages to the Pacific, koalas drawn by Ferdinand Bauer on the HMS Investigator voyage along the coast of Australia 1801-1803, and illustrations by early North American naturalists such as William Bartram, William Young and John Abbot.

Because of the need to preserve the specimens in the herbarium, numbers for this event are severely limited, so please sign up early. 

Kensington Society members £35.00, non-members £45.00

Please use our online booking system below to register and pay for this event.

Due to to the late addition of this event, we can unfortunately not accept postal bookings.

Online bookings

Make your booking online, paying via PayPal with your credit or debit card. You do not need a PayPal account to do so.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to a glitch in our payment system, when you reach the page for payment options (after having entered the names and email addresses of those attending on the previous page),  you MUST press the PayPal button under “Method of Payment”, although PayPal is the only available option, BEFORE you press the “Proceed to Finalize Registration” button. If you don’t, you’ll get an error message. However, if that happens you should be able to proceed anyway by closing the error message (just click on the X in the upper right-hand corner of the message window) and then selecting the PayPal button before you once again press the “Proceed to Finalize Registration” button.

We're sorry, but all tickets sales have ended because the event is expired.

Page updated 08/12/2018