Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Learning Story created by Leeds Museums and Galleries | The Discovery Centre

This learning story looks at how colonialism and the British empire directly contributed to natural science collections in museums, and how the legacy of racism and oppression is still embedded today through specimen names and collection notes.

Curriculum Links:

  • KS2 Citizenship: Preparing to play an active part as citizens
  • KS3 History: Ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901


Discussion and Activity Ideas:

  • Use the information in this resource and Supporting Links to run a class debate on whether animals and plants found in ex-British colony nations and named after historical white figures should be re-named.
  • Use the information and activity idea in the Taxonomy and Nomenclature resource to re-name one of the species mentioned in this resource with a more appropriate name, and justify your choice.
  • Research other impacts of colonialism on the natural world. Examples include:
    • Extinction (for example, through over-hunting or introduction of non-native predators)
    • Uses of animal products in Victorian fashion (for example feathers or insect wings)