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Nature Night: The Importance of Museum Collections and Their Specimens

Join Cecily Bronson, Biology Teaching Lab Manager at Portland State University, for May’s Nature Night!

The exhibits you see on display in Natural History Museums are just a small percentage of what they actually contain. There are rooms, even warehouses, filled with rows of metal cabinets and storage shelves that are packed full with meticulously organized animal skins and skeletons. It may appear as if these specimens are just gathering dust, but that is a misconception that is addressed in the book The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson.

These hidden collections are the heart of museums, and each collected specimen is a priceless treasure trove of biological data just waiting to be discovered and shared. It is in these collections that new species are discovered and myths are busted.

The Museum of Vertebrate Biology in the Department of Biology at Portland State University is comprised of five individual collections: Mammals, Birds, Fish, Amphibians and Reptiles, and Marine Mammals. The Museum is dedicated to using these specimens for educational purposes through both academic research and public outreach. The security and care of these specimens to ensure their longevity are the highest priorities for curators and collection managers.

For this talk, Cecily will discuss the importance and relevance of museum specimens and why Natural History Museums are more than what they appear. She will also describe the variety of specimens the Museum of Vertebrate Biology holds, and how they are used to better serve the community.


May 14, 2019
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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Bird Alliance of Oregon
5151 NW Cornell Road
Portland, OR 97210 United States
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