Kendal Museum opened in 1796 and has been collecting, educating, filling our minds with wonder and exhibiting our amazing collections for everyone. Not one to stand still, we have now digitised our Herbarium and Mineral collections.


‘Looking Through a Lens’ is a digitisation project based at Kendal Museum, which will digitally preserve and present two of its collections that possess considerable scientific, educational and social value.

Herbarium Collections

Martindale Herbarium collection - Orchids



Birds of Paradise

Roman Artefacts


The Digital Collection is now open to the Public

Workshops at Kendal Museum

Exciting workshops held throughout the year at Kendal Museum include amongst others, Herbarium, Artistic, Family, Drawing . . .

Artistic Workshop

with Marianne Birkby based on the mineral and herbarium. This workshop being run by well-known Cumbrian artist Marianne Birkby will encourage the community to experience heritage in a creative way.

Drawing Workshops

that will focus on the mineral and herbarium collections to create a unique piece for attendees . . .

Photography Workshop

This workshop will help attendees use photography in a creative manner and experience heritage in a creative way.

YAC workshop

Natural Elements in Archaeology. Our monthly YAC meeting will be focused on minerals and how they were used by our ancestors – New members are always welcome to join YAC. Children must be 8 years of old to join.

Afternoon talks

on Cumbria’s Herbarium History – Cumbria’s Mining History and more. Please see ‘Talks’ in the Event Area for all of the latest news.

WONDERFUEL - Through and Through

Did you know? Minerals from the Lake District were used to make munitions in WW2
Force crag mine is located just outside Braithwaite village in Borrowdale, it opened in 1839 and was an active mine for over 200 years. Men worked deep underground digging for lead, barites and Zinc. During the Second World War, tons of barites were extracted for making munitions. 60,000 tons of barytes were extracted in total.
Working in the mine was very risky, especially during icy conditions when materials had to be transported down the treacherous fell side. It was a harsh life for miners as large amounts of water flowed through force Crag mine, making working conditions very difficult and wet! The mine closed in 1990 after a collapse made the mine inaccessible.
Did you know? Minerals can change colour!
Minerals are fluorescent; some minerals emit visible light when they are illuminated with ultraviolet light. This causes a temporary colour change in the eye of the person looking at the mineral as the light released is a different wavelength. X-rays can also trigger fluorescence. Only about 15% of minerals have the ability to fluoresce.
This emerald green Torbernite mineral from the Hamer mineral collection is fluorescent. KMG2004.1.1160 UV Image?
This Calcite mineral from North Yorkshire fluoresces pink under UV light. KMG2004.1.453 UV image?
Did you know? Minerals are electric!
Tourmaline is pyroelectric, it becomes electrically charged generating a temporary voltage when it is heated.
Rubellite the pink variety of tourmaline can be found in the Hamer mineral collection this specimen was collected from Minas Gerais, Brazil. The name comes from the Latin rubellus, which means reddish. KMG2004.1.1096 Image
Did you know? Ferns were very fashionable in the ninetieth century
In the Victorian times it was very fashionable to have ferns in your house or garden. People fanatically searched for new and interesting varieties to grow in their gardens and to stay on trend!
Many of the fern specimens in the Martindale herbarium were collected locally from Cumbria; there are ferns from Reston Scar, Gragreth and Barrowfield wood.
Many local botanists became experts in the study of ferns and the National British Fern Society was founded in Kendal in 1891.
Include images and accession numbers of fern specimens when they have been accessioned. Vol.XX
Did you know? Egyptians used minerals for make up
Throughout history minerals have been used to make paint and cosmetics, as they have bright and distinctive colours. Both men and women in ancient Egypt paid a lot of attention to person appearance. Wealthy Egyptians applied red ochre to the lips. Red ochre is made from hematite, iron oxide; it was ground up and made into a paste to produce an attractive red colour.
KMG2004.1.1040, 628
Mineral, haematite, large specimen of kidney ore (blackleaded), from West Cumbria
Ancient Egyptians used kohl as eye makeup; it was used to darken the area around the eyes for cosmetic effect, but also to protect eyes from the sun’s rays. Various minerals were used to produce different colours.
Stibnite (Black)
KMG2012.1.148 201 Stibnite, Greenside Mine, Patterdale Stibnite = Antimonite. Sb2S3
KMG2012.1.29 154 Stibnite, Cervanite, Robin Hood Mine, Bassenthwaite
Malachite (green)
KMG2004.1.1358 1029 Mineral, malachite, from Not known.
Azurite (dark blue)
KEDLM : KMG2004.1.369 1035 Mineral, azurite, deep blue drusy crystals with minor botryoidal malachite, from Movenci, Arizona, U.S.A..
Did you know? Willow bark has pain reliving properties?
The leaves and bark of the willow tree are mentioned in ancient Egyptian and Greek texts as a remedy for aches and fever. Salicylic acid is a natural chemical obtained from the bark of the willow tree and it is the active ingredient in aspirin. It was first discovered in 1763 by Edward Stone at the University of Oxford. Many plants have important therapeutic uses; there is evidence that humans were using medicinal plants during the Paleolithic period, approximately 60,000 years ago.

The Science behind the collections

As you wonder around Kendal Museum you may not realise that behind the scenes there are thousands of specimens unseen in the stores.
Looking at museum specimens up close is interesting and intriguing.
Museum collections are also extremely useful to scientific researchers as they provide a biological library, a wealth of knowledge and resources, which spans hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. Scientists do not need to travel to remote locations to carry out research they can just go to the closest museum.

Why are Collections Important for Scientific Research?

Museum collections provide scientists a library of information to study the earth’s biodiversity. Museums have hidden biological treasures; new species are often discovered years after the specimens were first collected.

Museum collections can be used to measure how populations of animals or plants have changed over time in response to habit loss or climate change. Collections provide a base line; scientists can measure changes in the biology of a particular species in response to environmental change. Research can be used to predict future changes and hopefully prevent negative impacts.

Survival of Collections

Museum collections are a valuable resource, for collections to survive and be used by scientists; they must be looked after by a curator. A curator’s job is to manage collections, to ensure that they are protected and available to the public for their enjoyment and education.

The purpose of Kendal museum digital website is to make the images and information relating to the collections widely available.

Research at Kendal Museum

The herbarium collection at Kendal museum has been used for scientific research, investigating how plants have responded to changes in carbon dioxide levels. The Martindale herbarium collection consist of over 4000 specimens of British flowering plants collected during the ninetieth century. Scientists discovered that the biology of plant species has changed over time due to climate change. Plant stomata have decreased in density in response to increasing global carbon dioxide levels. Stomata are the small openings on a plant leaf used for gas exchange, facilitating photosynthesis. Without this extensive collection it would not be possible to compare the morphology of plants found today with species present 100 years ago.


Three Legged Society

3 Legged Society

One hundred and fifty years ago the Lake District was a world centre in botanical research. One hundred and fifty years ago the Lake District was a world centre in botanical research.

01539 815597

Kendal Museum

Kendal Museum
Station Road

Get In Touch

Need to contact us?
Please feel free to use the form below!

Contact form - Kendal Museum Digital

10 + 9 =

Where history and nature meet