Digitising Kew's Collections

Taking Kew's Herbarium and Fungarium online for everyone across the globe to access.

Young researcher at a PC digitising

Kew is embarking on one of the biggest projects in its history with the launch of this multimillion pound project to digitise its entire collection of more than eight million plant and fungal specimens.

These collections are a reference resource for biodiversity and conservation research, telling us what plant and fungal material was found where, when, and by whom. Preserved specimens can be analysed anatomically, genetically, and chemically, but at present they can only be accessed by visiting Kew.

The aim of Kew's Digitisation Project is to transform our Science Collections into a global online resource by digitising all 7 million Herbarium and 1.25 million Fungarium specimens, enabling some of the most critical challenges facing humanity, such as climate change and habitat degradation, to be addressed.

This will involve digitising the specimens and creating a portal to provide external access to these specimens.

The project will deliver against Priority 3 of Kew’s Science Strategy which is to undertake large-scale digitisation of specimens and integration of data systems to increase the global value and use of Kew’s collections for science, conservation and education.

The project includes three components:

  • Digitisation of the Herbarium and Fungarium specimens: digitise all specimens within a four-year period 
  • Integrated Collections Management System (ICMS): replace old databases with one integrated system to manage all collections 
  • Data Portal: replace existing data portals and web pages with one data portal to provide access to all collections

Paul Kersey – Project Senior Responsible Owner

Alan Paton – Project Deputy Senior Responsible Owner

Sarah Phillips – Research Leader Digital Collections

Marie-Hélène Weech - Lead Digitisation Operations Manager

John Adcock - Programme Manager

Helen Hardy, Natural History Museum

Erik Smets

Earthcape Oy

The digitisation of our collections and the online portal have been part-funded by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the first Chairman of Kew’s Board of Trustees, Lord John Eccles.