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The Collection, Wareham

#16 of 22 in Things to do in Wareham
Natural History Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
The Etches Collection is the finest single collection of Late Jurassic age fossils ever assembled in Britain. Many of the species in this extraordinary collection of 2,000 fossils from the Kimmeridge Clay are new to science and are of great palaeontological importance.

The exceptional preservation and preparation of the fossils provides a unique and exciting insight into the lives of these marine creatures from the Late Jurassic Kimmeridgian period, how they bred, lived and died.

The collection has become publicly available for the first time, housed in a new purpose-built museum, learning and visitor centre in the village of Kimmeridge, on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. A virtual aquarium and interactive exhibition brings to life the incredible stories from deep time (150-157 million years ago) and conveys the fascination and curiosity of the collector, Steve Etches.


The Etches Collection is the result of over 30 years dedicated and skilled discovery, collection, preparation and research of Kimmeridgian fossils by palaeontologist, Dr Steve Etches MBE.

A plumber by profession, Steve’s achievements and contribution to the world of palaeontology have been recognised with awards from The Palaeontological Association (The Mary Anning Prize, 1993 and 2005), The Geological Society of London (the R.H. Worth Prize, 1994), The Geologists’ Association (The Halstead Medal) and an honorary doctorate from the University of Southampton in 2017. In 2014, Steve was awarded an MBE for services to Palaeontology, the first time an MBE has been awarded for this category.


The Etches Collection receives great patronage from UK and international palaeontologists, geologists and scientists in recognition of the superior status of both the collection and its collector. It has also been the subject of great wonderment and excitement for many of the children who have come to see and learn about Steve’s fossils!

The collection was housed in Steve’s converted garage. It had always been Steve’s hope that the collection would be available to the public, housed together in the area that the fossils were found. This dream has now been realised.

In 2014 Steve gifted his invaluable collection to the nation and a local landowner donated land in Kimmeridge. Planning permission and funding was secured to create a world class, accredited museum to house the collection, so that the fossils can be enjoyed and used as a basis for learning and research by all.


Visitors enter the Exhibition Gallery and are taken on an immersive journey through life underwater 150 million years ago. Using CGI projected on the ceiling and wall panels, the space is transformed into an aquarium of the past in the blink of an eye. Objects that once seemed static will be brought to life and represented as if they were modern day animals.

Directly beneath the ceiling, the fossil specimens are carefully presented and interpreted to bring to life their individual stories.

Visitors leave the museum recognising that the fossils are tangible evidence of living beings and that there are a wealth of untold stories to explore and discover as well as a lot to be learnt from this former life on earth.


The pursuit of making new discoveries, revealing more stories about the world of the Kimmeridgian is a constant for Steve Etches.

That is why the museum space is not only a home for his collection but also a dynamic research centre and workspace that enables Steve and his team to continue his work of discovery, preparation, analysis and curation.

The centre offers an excellent visitor attraction and superb facility for community, educational and corporate groups.

It is a resource for education and knowledge, a centre of excellence and facility for the local community, an ideal space for inspiring events, seminars and talks, and a must on the itinerary of every tourist and visitor to the area.


The museum offers flexible learning space, conference rooms and a village hall to hire all with fabulous facilities. Our location, set in an unrivalled location in the heart of the Dorset countryside on the Jurassic Coast with stunning views of the sea, the building lies at the gateway to the coast and is just a short walk from the bay. Host your event with us and provide your guest with a truly unique experience!


As a charitable Trust, we rely upon the patronage, sponsorship and support of corporate and private individuals.

There are a number of ways that individuals and companies can get involved, including:

• Make a donation

• Become a corporate sponsor

• Book a fossil tour or talk with Steve

• Sign up for our Newsletter or follow us on Twitter

Please contact us for more information.
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The Collection reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
12 reviews
  • I take it that this is the etches collection we are reviewing. The place is very informative and has a number of things to look at, would only spend about an hour or so, not something you could do...  more »
  • Quite pricey for what you get, however if you're interested in fossils and all things paeliantology it is well worth a visit. A little off the beaten track but would also recommend continuing down to....  more »

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