Natural History Museum at Tring

Lionel Walter Rothschild was a rich, eccentric and determined character who dedicated his life to the study of animals. His private collection formed the foundation of the Museum at Tring.

At the age of seven, Walter - as he preferred to be called - declared to his parents that he was going to 'make a museum', and began to establish himself as a collector.

By the age of 10, he had amassed a collection of specimens including beetles, butterflies, birds, fish and mammals. At 18 he moved to Cambridge to study natural sciences, and for his 21st birthday his father gave him money and land to build the museum Walter had first declared would be his some 14 years earlier.

In 1892, at 24 years old, Walter opened his museum to the public. It remains one of the largest private natural history collections ever assembled.

Walter employed dozens of collectors who travelled the world to bring back new specimens for display and research, and live animals for study and breeding. He was particularly fascinated by cassowaries and giant tortoises, and even trained zebras to draw his carriage.

Following Walter's death in 1937, the building and collection were gifted to the nation and became part of the Natural History Museum.

Today it retains its unique Victorian character, including its original floor-to-ceiling, glass-fronted hardwood and iron cases. The 4,000 specimens on public display are still arranged in taxonomic order, classified into related groups, just as they were in Walter’s lifetime.

Tickets available from this activity

Sunday 7th April 2019


Have the Museum to yourselves in this unique tour with handling specimens. Learn more about Walter Rothschild, the founder of the Museum, and hear some of the amazing stories behind our specimens. Receive a complimetary hot drink from our cafe from 13.00 then explore the galleries further from 14.00-17.00 whilst we are open to the public.

Most suitable for adults. Each ticket is valid for 2 people. 

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Attraction Date
Opening Times
Open daily – 10.00 - 17.00

Akeman Street


HP23 6AP
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020 7942 6171
Nearest Station
Tring, 2 miles
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