I have had the privileged to visit a few museums collections now and I have never really considered where all of the animal specimens came from. Mostly, I assumed they dated back to collection exhibitions from years ago. Of course this is a naive view and would not account for all of the new species identified in more recent years. I suppose I never gave the topic much thought as to me part of any museum is the collection of objects, and therefore natural history museums must collect natural specimens.
Recently, some scientists from Arizona State University have been calling for a change in methods regarding specimen collection for museums and have suggested that this may have even caused extinction of some species. In response to this Emily Graslie of The Brain Scoop posted a video on YouTube addressing the issue. It’s a very eloquent, logical explanation backed up by facts – a true scientist!
An article entitled ‘Is collecting animals for science a noble mission or threat?’ It’s a punchy headline and hopefully it will reach more of the general public than just academics or museum enthusiasts. Included are quotes from multiple researchers stating the need and use of animal specimens.
As I said before, I didn’t think about this issue until I saw the article through tumblr but I think that both of these sources have reported it with great understanding. The make it clear that researches at museums do not want to harm animals or their populations but they have a need for a few specimens in order to have a g understanding.
Please read the article and watch the article if you have even a remote interest in this area. It’s an important issue which has been handled very well.