‘eighty years of promoting biodiversity conservation through taxonomic research, scientific training and international networks’

Harrison Institute, Centre for Biodiversity Research

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Part of the mounted bird collection.

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Part of the diorama of Coningbrook, Kent with associated fossil mammals.

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A specimen of an African shrew, a dry skin with skull and parts of the post-cranial osteology.

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The library has an extensive specialist collection of books and reprints relating to mammal taxonomy.
The Zoological Collections of the Harrison Institute


The Harrison Institute is home to nearly 60,000 scientific specimens. Its collection includes:


The History of the Collections

The Harrison Institute was founded by Dr James Harrison in 1930. Based at Bowerwood House in Sevenoaks, some 40 km from central London, the Institute originally focused on the study of British and Palaearctic birds. This study was actively supported by Dr James’s elder son, Dr Jeffery Harrison.

In 1971, its zoological collections were recognised as being of national and international importance and it became a charitable trust (No 268830). In 1986, the Department of the Environment awarded it the status of ‘Registered Scientific Institution’ and it was listed under CITES (GB010).

Under the leadership of Dr David Harrison (Dr James's younger son), the Institute has increasingly focused on the taxonomy of mammals, both fossil and recent.


The Library

The library contains hundreds of books and thousands of reprints relating to mammal and bird taxonomy.


Using the collections and library

Scientific visitors are welcome, Monday to Friday (9.00 am – 6.00 pm), but by prior appointment only.  The Institute is shut for all public holidays and at various other times, without notice [more information]

Please bear in mind that the vast majority of the collections' catalogue is a manual card index. Only the most recent acquisitions are computerized so therefore currently it is not possible to request detailed listings of specimens.