You are here: Home / TAFs / SE-TAF / Naturhistoriska riksmuseet (NRM)

Naturhistoriska riksmuseet (NRM)

Naturhistoriska riksmuseet

The Swedish Museum of Natural History (NRM) is a major research institute holding more than 11 million biological, paleontological and geological specimens and has a strong research tradition in these disciplines. The museum’s history dates back to the late 18th century and the collections still houses many specimens from this time. A total of ca 160 people work at the Division of Research and Collections. The Division consists of six departments: Geosciences, Palaeobiology, Botany, Zoology, Environmental Research and Monitoring, and Bioinformatics and Genetics.


The Swedish Museum of Natural History (NRM) contains more than 11 million biological, palaeontological and geological specimens (including organisms, fossils, minerals, wet collections, frozen tissues, DNA, slides, etc.). The collections are characterized by specific areas of strength, as the rich and extensive collections from tropical regions, especially South America, and high-latitude and polar regions. The collections include numerous type specimens (a minimum of 161,000 primary types) and historical collections, as well as the world’s oldest Environmental Specimen Bank. Approximately 29% (almost 3 million) of the specimens are digitized the majority of which are accessible via internet. The collections consist of nine core collections and are managed in five departments (BOT: Botany, GEO: Geosciences, MFÖ: Environmental Research and Monitoring, PAL: Palaeobiology, ZOO: Zoology):



Vascular Plants

Over 3 million specimens, >56,000 types registered to date


Large and unique collections from areas with a high level of biodiversity (e.g., South America and the Caribbean [Herbarium Regnellianum], South Africa)


Historical Swartz, Linnaeus etc. collections (also covering non-vascular plants)


50,000 pollen and spore slides


Non-vascular plants & fungi

1.5 million specimens, including >54,000 types


Significant lichen collection from S America (G. Malme, R. Santesson)


One of the largest bryophyte herbaria worldwide with >720,000 specimens



180,000 specimens (corresponds to almost 160,000 data entries)


Type specimens for 107 mineral species. Meteorite collection (ca. 300). Rich collections from the famous Långban mines (25,000 samples)


Environmental Specimen Bank

The Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB) has one of the oldest and greatest collections of environmental specimens (>400,000 specimens) in the world and is an essential part of the monitoring of contaminants in the Swedish fauna. For some species continuous series of samples exist from the late 1960s.


Specimens from the ESB are available for research work into environmental contamination and bio-diversity.


Fossil Animals

Of an estimated 1,600,000 items, about half are from Sweden (including large collections of coralsand other invertebrates from the Silurian of Gotland), and most of the remainder from Europe (including Antarctica and the Arctic islands of Spitsbergen, Bear Island, Novaya Zemlya and Vaigach, and with historically important collections of fossil fishes as a main highlight).


Fossil Plants

More than 300,000 specimens consisting of macro-, meso- and microfossils. Particularly important collections from China, Sweden, and polar regions


H.J. Schweitzer collection containing approx. 10,000 specimens from Iran, Afghanistan, Bear Island, Germany and many other remote localities



About 120,000 microfossil specimens, including historically important collections of foraminifers, ostracods, conodonts etc.



Important and unique material from all continents comprising 163,000 bird, 51 000 mammal, more than 500,000 fish and 50,000 reptile and amphibian specimens



Over 580,000 lots of which the mollusc collection, 300,000 lots, is particularly strong in material from high latitude areas and also from hydrothermal vents


Insects, spiders and myriapods

3 million specimens of a broad systematic and geographic coverage, and including very valuable historical collections (e.g., De Geer)

Research expertise

Research expertise. SE-TAF scientists at NRM’s research division are experts in a wide range of disciplines within the natural sciences and conduct research on the development and diversity of the Earth and life on it. Areas in which NRM scientists hold particularly strong and world-leading expertise are:

-       Bayesian phylogenetic inference methods

-       Molecular techniques allowing obtaining DNA from museum collections and development of genetic methods for species-level identification and population monitoring

-       Palaeogenetics and palaeo-phylogeography allowing e.g. genetic studies of museum and other specimens up to several thousands of years old

-       Phylogeny, systematics and taxonomy of Early Metazoans; brittle stars/Ophiuroidea; Acoela, Nemertodermatida, Rhabditophora; fish, cichlids; birds; molluscs; insects, Trichoptera, water beetles; carnivorous mammals; seed plants, high latitude floras, Asterales, Ericales; Pleurocarpous mosses, emphasis on arctic & temperate taxa; lichenized fungi, Arthoniales; Ascomycetes, Pezizomycetes; Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic floras

-       The origins of multicellular life, exploring alternative models of mode and location of origin

-       Evolution, biogeography and adaptations of birds, collaborating with DK-TAF, GB-TAF and FR-TAF

-       Pleurocarpous mosses, complementing expertise at NL-TAF

-       Contaminant research

-       The application of X-ray microtomography to the study of fossil animals and plants

-       Mineral spectroscopy and isotope analyses

-       Ion-microbeam analytical applications combined with studies of Hadean/early Archaean surface environments and Earth's earliest life

Analytical facilities and services

The dedicated research laboratory and service space at the Swedish Museum of Natural History covers more than 1,100 m² and includes advanced analytical facilities and excellent libraries.

Facilities for biological and palaeontological research. The state-of-the-art DNA laboratories includes an ancient-DNA laboratory suitable for obtaining sequence data from museum specimens. Modern scanning electron microscopes for ultra-structure studies of biological and palaeontological materials, excellent services for physical handling and x-ray investigation of zoological specimens, laboratories for fossil extraction using acetic and hydrofluoric acid, a laboratory for analysis of X-ray microtomography data, and imaging facilities are available.

Facilities for geological and geochemical research include a modern clean laboratory for low-level contamination chemical preparation of rock, sediment and water samples, a mineral synthesis laboratory, an X-ray diffractometer, equipment for Mössbauer and polarised single crystal micro-FTIR spectroscopy, as well as a Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) instrument. The Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope facility includes Energy-Dispersive, Cathodoluminescence, Wavelength-dispersive, and Back-scattered electron detectors.

The NordSIM-Vegacenter facility, a recognized national research infrastructure, includes state-of-the-art microbeam analytical instrumentation focused on in situ material analysis. It is capable of a wide range of innovative research in the geosciences, such as the investigation of chemical and isotope composition and imaging. The recent upgrade of the high mass-resolution ion microprobe (Cameca IMS1280) to a Hyperion2 source makes it presently one of only four such instruments in Europe. The excimer laser ablation system can be connected to a high-resolution single-collector inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) and/or a multi-collector ICP-MS for in situ trace-element and isotope analysis. The advanced mass spectrometers also enable analysis of water and dissolved samples. The NordSIM-Vegacenter facility also conducts research in a wide range of topics beyond geosciences.

Information technology. NRM houses a recently launched national research infrastructure, Biodiversity Atlas Sweden (BAS) that will offer data and data analysis services, allowing interdisciplinary research on biodiversity, ecosystems and processes that affect entire biotas, as well as serving as the Swedish node in GBIF. NRM is also member of the FishBase Consortium, a global information system on fishes. The museum also has computing resources beyond standard hardware and programs comprise advanced phylogenetic software and facilities for GIS and imaging analyses.

Infrastructure services on offer

SE-TAF offers access to all the collections, equipment, services and expertise available at the installation. The only exception is the botanical collections that will be unavailable due to a major renovation of the building. Collections and staff will be re-located for several years.


Institution info

Stockholm, Sweden


Institution info


Margret Steinthorsdottir

Stockholm, Sweden