The natural history collections formed the original basis of the Museum and most specimens date from the 19th and 20th Century.
Most of the collection is of local and regional significance with some specimens of national interest, such as the Vendace, a local relict of the ice age, together with published examples of taxidermy, for example, Greenwell Blackett’s Buzzard.
Most of the collection has close associations with notable local naturalists such as Joseph Flintoft and Linneas Eden Hope, who helped develop the collections (excluding geology).
There are a range of mounted birds and mammals, some not found in Cumbria today, some osteological material, several hundred clutches of birds eggs and nests, and a naturally mummified “700 Year Old Cat”.
There is also a large entomological collection of mainly British Lepidoptera and Micro-Lepidoptera, and a comprehensive collection of local Coleoptera. The collection includes fish, reptiles and amphibians, preserved wet, dried and mounted, with a significant collection of freshwater and marine shells from Britain and the world. The herbarium includes over one thousand sheets of pressed material.
The natural history collection has circa 16,000 items.