Beetles are one of the key areas of the entomological collections. The Georg Frey collection, which has been housed in the Natural History Museum Basel since 1997, contains around a quarter of the 370,000 species of beetles known today, as well as types from around 20,000 taxa. The over two million preserved beetles are distributed over around 6,700 boxes.

The industrialist Georg Frey (1902 – 1976) passionately collected and researched beetles for 50 years. He organised and financed a great number of expeditions to places all over the world, always buying freshly collected materials and acquiring numerous significant collections. Frey permanently employed three to five staff to look after his museum. At the same time he established an outstanding specialist library. It contains magazines that can be found nowhere else in Switzerland.

All of the known families of beetles appear in the collection, with some of them being particularly comprehensively covered. They form special collections that are among the most complete in the world. In addition to the types as reference material, the numerous examples gathered from many different parts of the world, such as the colourful rose chafer from Africa or the rare longhorn beetle from Papua New Guinea, are of major importance. The majority of the collection documents the beetles of Africa and South America.