The Herbarium of the Natural History Museum in Vienna (W) was established in 1807. Current holdings in NHMW are of approximately 5.5 million plant specimens. The herbarium is especially rich in types (the plant specimen to which the scientific name of that species is attached) with around 200,000 type specimens. Although one sixth of the collection was destroyed during the Second World War, the herbarium is ranked amongst the top five botanical collections in the world.
Countless expeditions and active loan and exchange programmes with other herbaria, have led to the vast and varied collection held here in the Department of Botany. Even today, numerous new specimens are collected and exchanged yearly.
In order to work work with the valuable material held in W, botanists from all over the world come to visit the Department of Botany or request specimens on loan. When it is impossible to physically send specimens (i.e. due to fragile or rare herbarium sheets), it is possible to find the requested specimen on the virtual herbaria website. This database contains numerous specimens, including scans of type specimens. Photographs of plants of the Austrian Flora can be found at Botanik-im-Bild.