About 500 specimens are added to the Collection each year; almost all of these derive from Kew’s scientific work, or are generously donated to the Collection. Such gifts greatly increase Kew’s ability to support research and education. Recent donations have come from retired scientists, descendants of colonial officers, craftspeople such as Japanese papermakers, and an organic farmer, as well as many Kew staff.
The Collection acquiries all kinds of plant raw materials and artefacts, but with the stipulation that the plant of origin is known. In many cases this will be obvious; it other cases, the information may have been recorded at the time of collection. In some cases, such as historic material, the plant identification is less important.
To discuss donation of specimens to the Collection, please contact us. Even if unable to accept your donation, we will always try to suggest a suitable home in another collection, drawing on our contacts with other museums.
Volunteers, students and interns make a huge contribution to the collection, particularly to its conservation, databasing and history. Please see our Education & Training page.
Collection staff work closely with Kew’s library, Art & Archives staff to ensure that our printed and archive collections best complement our holdings. This means collecting books that lie outside the strict scope of botany, on subjects such as the history of empire, exploration, medicine and crafts, biographies, and travel books. As the scope of the Collection is worldwide, books in any language are acquired.
Gifts of books, manuscripts and art are welcomed by the Library, who also run a scheme by which books and art can be sponsored in celebration of a person or family - see the Library webpage. Many gifts to the Library support research carried out in the Economic Botany collection. Our current “wish list” includes Papel indigena Mexicano by Hans Lenz (1978), and the 1787 A catalogue of the different specimens of cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, welcomes donations to support its work through Friends & Foundation. A simple way to support Kew and to receive news of its activities (including work in the Collection) is to become a Friend.