Some people may think that natural history museums deposit only old, historically and/or scientifically important collections. Although this is true, museums also continue to acquire new materials coming to them in various ways. In order just to give visitors an idea about how new collections can be acquired, here is a very brief report on new acquisitions made by the Manchester Museum’s Entomology department during the last five years, from January 2008 to December 2012.
A total of 66 acquisitions of 17,477 specimens have been received, as follows:
1. Fieldwork (by the curator): 3 acquisitions of 368 specimens.
2. Enquire-based acquisitions (usually via the identification service we provide): 10 acquisitions of 61 specimens.
3. Acquisitions related to the public events that we support (Bioblitzes and others): 5 acquisitions of 112 specimens.
4. Exchange: 1 acquisition of 121 specimens.
5. Donations: 47 acquisitions of 16,815 specimens.
Of the aforementioned donations, the largest single one was the spider collection of Dr. Eric Duffey (Norfolk) from Britain, France and Spain acquired in July 2011, which alone consisted of more than 6,000 sample tubes containing 12,545 specimens. The collection has a high scientific value and started being intensively used both for research and for teaching.
Some donations are quite unusual. For instance, a set of three trays apparently produced in Brazil and received in July 2011. Each tray contains a selection of 12 to 21 showy tropical butterflies incorporated inside its bottom, with a nice Morpho-butterfly in the centre (see photo). The trays were first given to us for the identification of butterflies, which we did, and then were simply donated to the Museum.
Although the majority of newly acquired insect or spider collections represent an essential resource for taxonomic research, many specimens can also be used (and are used) in various Museum’s educational programmes or temporary/permanent exhibitions. A new permanent Museum’s exhibition called ‘Nature’s Library’, which is due to open in April 2013, will be specifically devoted to our large natural history collections hidden behind-the-scenes and to why these collections are here and how are they used. Do not miss out the opening date (check out the Museum’s site regularly).