The Natural History Museum has announced plans to open a new 320,000 sq ft science and digitisation centre at the Harwell Campus.

The museum will move 27 million specimens to the state-of-the-art centre, which will open in 2026.

The centre, supported by £182 million from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, will also enable the museum’s 300 scientists to develop and work with existing and new partners in the use of technologies such as AI, imaging and genomic analysis.

Dr Tim Littlewood, executive director of science at the Natural History Museum said: “We are in a race against time to find evidence-based solutions to the major challenges facing our planet.

“We need accurate big data on nature to measure global change and inform future policies and this new centre will allow us to generate and process that through a major acceleration of our digitisation programme.

“We are proud that the Government has recognised the critical role both our global collections and research expertise can play in tackling the planetary emergency through this major investment in the natural sciences.”

Stuart Grant, chief executive of Harwell Campus, said: “As a world-leading science and innovation community, the new digitisation centre will be an incredible addition to Harwell’s collection of renowned national facilities, enabling the Natural History Museum to future-proof collections-based research and allowing scientists to solve the challenges and planetary pressures that we face.”

Image shows preparations for the move. Credit: Natural History Museum.

© Thames Tap (powered by

Sign up to receive your free weekly Thames Tap newsletter here.