Digital Revolution

Unlocking the vast resource of information held within our collections.

Young researcher at a PC digitising

Head of department: Dr Kate Gill

Kew holds a globally unique, substantial and growing collection of fungal and plant specimens, illustrations, data, databases, scientific literature, and archives of unpublished material, the legacy of almost 200 years of botanical and mycological science.

Yet our collections still hold vast quantities of uncaptured data from physical specimens (including DNA and biomolecules) and their labels, and from our archive collections and information on illustrations.

The large-scale digitisation of our major collections and the integration of systems will release this information, helped by new innovative online tools for data retrieval, analysis and visualisation.

This digital revolution will facilitate more efficient curation and management, while increasing the global value and use of the collections by scientists and the wider public.

Digitisation and digital innovation will allow virtual repatriation of images and data to countries of origin, while unleashing new opportunities for large-scale data mining and analysis for scientific discovery and innovation. 

Department initiatives

  • Digitisation of Kew’s Collections: transforming our Science Collections into a global online resource 
  • Knowledge Integration: integrating Kew’s plant and fungal knowledge management to facilitate its integrity, curation and use  
  • Knowledge Sharing: delivering plant and fungal knowledge and the tools for its applied use in research, conservation and innovation 


  • The back of a head of a researcher looking at Kew's Plants of the World Online portal on a computer screen

    Biodiversity Informatics

    Developing software and digitising content for Kew's online databases, including Plants of the World Online.

  • Volunteer stood at a PC in the Herbarium

    Digital Collections

    Making Kew's Herbarium and Fungarium collections digitally accessible and managing our collections databases.

  • Black background with blue and green lines depicting data

    Intelligent Data Analysis

    Applying machine learning and data mining techniques for efficient data handling.

  • Close up of fan shaped leaves of Gingko biloba, the maidenhair tree

    Plant Use Informatics

    Collating, analysing and sharing data concerning the use of plants and fungi and their products.

  • Researcher sat in front of computer screen with phylogenetic tree

    Scientific Software and Advanced Computing

    Developing and supporting platforms and tools to share Kew's scientific data.