The major Doncaster collection of butterflies which has to be hidden from view

A small selection of British Butterflies, part of a collection, donated to the museum by the family George Hyde. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Museum MC 9
A small selection of British Butterflies, part of a collection, donated to the museum by the family George Hyde. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Museum MC 9

It is a complete collection of British butterflies - but sadly you will not see it on open display at Doncaster museum.

Although the museum has a comprehensive collection of butterflies and moths, it cannot put them in the open because of the delicate nature of the collection.

The light and the air in the main section of the museum would cause too much damage, says bosses.

We are revealing the collection as part of our series of stories looking at the hidden collections at Doncaster Museum, which are not currently on public display, for conservation or space reasons.

Entering the room where the collection is stored, the smell of camphor, or mothballs, is instantly clear.

The collection was passed onto the museum in the 1987, after the death of the Doncaster man, George Hyde, who had collected them.

Born in Doncaster in 1902, George Hyde was a renowned entomologist - and expert in insects. He specialised in lepidoptera, which is butterflies and moths.

He went to Doncaster Grammar school and worked at the Doncaster Plantworks, which made steam locomotives, before “retiring” at 48 to become a full time researcher and photographer.

He was a member of the Doncaster Naturalists’ society as well as the Royal Entomological Society.

One of his early mentors, who he met in 1917, was Dr Corbett, who was the first curator of Doncaster Museum.

Mr Hyde was particularly interested in butterflies and moths from Hatfield Moors and the destruction of their natural habitat.

His collection includes specimens from all over the UK and specimens which he bred himself. His widow donated his collection to the museum when he died in 1987, as well as his collection of birds’ eggs, collected in the 1930s.

Peter Robinson, curator of human history at Heritage Doncaster said: "He pretty much collected all the species in Britain. Some of them were collected locally, and some of them are caterpillars.

"Sadly, it is difficult to display because it is light sensitive, and the butterflies are very vulnerable to pests. That is why the mothballs are there. They would just fade in the light. But the collection is there for researchers into butterflies, and hey are visited by researchers."