The Museum serves as an important ex-situ conservation facility on Nigeria's biodiversity resources, important rocks, mineral and archaeology artifacts. The scientific staff are actively involved in research, which continuously yield a lot of interesting specimens for the Museum collection. A number of bequeaths and gifts have also been received.
To date, the Museum Herbarium has about 20,000 fully identified plants. The identified bird specimens number 5, 150, while specimens of rocks and minerals of southwestern Nigeria have been collected and catalogued. There is also a sizeable collection of mammals, fossils, insect and over 6,000 archaeological artifacts (including the famous Ife terracotta, Ife glass beads, crucibles, tobacco pipes). The Museum's artifact and scientific collections have been a great resource to local and international researchers.
The vision of the founders of Natural History Museum was that it should house all type specimens of all natural and history cultural history objects, collected in the course of all research in all department and faculties in this University. This has not been the case in the past because of space problems. We hope that with the completion of an ultramodern architectural master piece, colleagues will now come forward to deposit their type specimens.
Collections form the base of reference materials in the museum which is basically the samplings of population in an environment or habitat. Expeditions are organized with the assistance of scientist/researchers; material, and specimen like birds, mammals, insects; plants collected are brought back to the museum to be processed by the staff in the service sections. The collections are grouped for future studies. The museum has acquisition policy like donations and bequeaths.
The specimens collected are recorded with headings to tell the exact locality , altitudes if collected on mountains or depths in waters, the vegetation types, aspect of behaviour, photographs, cast of animals, nest, seasons etc. various museums techniques are employed by the curators to do the collection of materials.
Generally, the collected materials are labeled with all essential data in the field at the time of preparation with museum labels having items such as locally, date, collector's name, sex of the animal/specimens, weight, colouration etc. the materials are preserved in various ways to prevent deterioration, desiccation and protein decay of collections, the material are prepared for study and exhibition depending on the line of research. Birds and mammals are skinned, skeleton and skulls are prepared, slides of parts of organs are mounted, insect are pinned, mounted, dried in cases and boxes. The research collections because of their importance are housed like research libraries in high security, fire proof, dustproof cases. Cataloguing is done after specimens are identified; the method of cataloguing depend on the group of animals, plants mineral and rocks. Unidentified materials are however kept within the family or genus to where they belong.