San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[San Diego Natural History Museum: Collections Care & Conservation]
Why do we want to make specimens last forever?

Because of their value!
Because they are unique--and a limited resource!
Because of the costs involved with acquiring a specimen!

Jon Rebman and Opuntia, photo D.Clark burros carrying equipment, Sierra de San Francisco expedition, photo by J. Rebman helicopter delivering equipment to Isla Adentro, photo by J. Rebman collecting insects, photo by P.Cato Collecting a Crotalus exsul on Cedros Island, photo by B. Hollingsworth Collecting plants, photo by J.Rebman Working on a whale fossil, photo by T.Murray Collecting at Rancho San Juanito, photo by B.Hollingsworth bat in hand, photo by S.Tremor Seacow fossil, photo by T. Murray
Caring for Collections

Because of the costs involved with acquiring a specimen!

What are the costs and problems of acquiring a specimen?


Problems of finding a specimen:

  Some kinds or species are not available at all. Examples:
  • Marine species
  • Extinct species
  • Endangered species
  • Threatened species
Most require some type of permit to obtain and to hold.
  • Most mammal and bird specimens can be obtained only with federal and state permits.
Locations for collecting may be difficult to visit, or inaccessible.

Costs of time:

  • Time for staff person to find the right kind or species;
  • Time for staff at other institutions to locate one for us and send it;
  • Time for a staff member to prepare the specimen for research;
  • Time required to find someone else, such as a taxidermist, to mount the specimen in a life like pose;M

Costs of materials:

  • Materials to collect the specimens;
  • Materials to prepare or mount the specimen;
  • Time for a staff member to prepare the specimen for research;
  • Materials to protect the mounted specimen.

And the costs of taking care of specimens and making information available

  • Good quality cabinets
  • Effective heating and air conditioning systems
  • Information systems (the computers, printers, software)
  • Staff to manage and care for the collections
Conservation work on Valentiens, photo by J.GibsonRare Book image, photo by Cary CanningMammal cases with K.Randall, photo by P.CatoOwl, Nature to You collection

How do we make them last?
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