The Challenger Collection is a range of important specimens collected in the 19th century from some of the great ocean basins. These were collected to investigate the physical and biological conditions of the seas.
HMS Challenger was a ship that set out from Portsmouth in December 1872, carrying naturalists, chemists and a vast amount of equipment in order to gather and process the specimens on board as they travelled. Before setting out the ship was altered to accommodate laboratories, drying facilities and chemical chambers in order for the scientists to conduct their work.
The scientists collected samples dredged from 360 stations, each station bearing a number to show the location. They also recorded depth, surface temperature and chemical composition of the sea water.
On the ships’ return, the specimens were handed over to the British Museum, who then distributed them to other museums around the country, in order for everyone to benefit from the information gathered. At Worcester Art Gallery and Museum we have around 23 of the specimens, some of whose locations are from the southern Indian Ocean and the Atlantic.
Recently, work has been conducted to bring the entire Challenger collection together online. An inventory was completed with images so that they are accessible to everyone who would like to see this wonderful collection in its entirety. You can view it here: