Virtual Digitisation: Specify7 Database

If there is a hashtag that defines museum practices of the 21st century, it’d better be #digitization.   With the leaps and bounds computing power has taken in the past decade, researchers have been getting on the ramp of creating large online biodiversity databases for collection objects. An example is the Integrated Digital Biocollections (iDigBio) … Read more

Figuring Out Fritillaries

As I embarked on my butterfly project earlier this month, one of my fellow students came to me with a predicament. He sent me an email with pictures of two of our butterfly specimens that were marked as different species, but to both of our untrained eyes, looked exactly the same. He was hoping I … Read more

Museum Curation in the Time of Coronavirus

This year has obviously been like no other any of us have ever experienced. COVID-19 has upended our regular way of living, and it seems that no aspect of our lives has been left untouched. Museums are no different. Beginning in March, museums around the world started closing their doors for an unprecedented amount of time. Many still have yet to open back up again, and there is fear that their closure might be permanent. Despite the somber circumstances, museum employees have continued their work behind the scenes, and have found unique ways to adapt to the current situation. From virtual tours to calming hashtags on Twitter to Tiktok (??), museums have continued to connect with the public. But the actual work that goes into creating a museum, the curation, has also taken a hit. With so many people working from home, the normal hands-on with the artifacts, artwork, and specimens has had to undergo dramatic change, and the collaboration between employees has taken a new form. 

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Corals Are Paleontological Clocks

The Joe Webb Peoples collections here at Wesleyan contain an incredible amount and variety of corals, ranging in age through the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras to the late 1800s. These corals can tell us many things about Earth’s environments in the past, from just before the industrial age back to the far distant past. … Read more


Our Wesleyan natural history collections include many taxidermy specimens of birds (‘stuffed birds’), some of which can be admired in display cases along the hall ways of Shanklin, 2nd floor. Other were stored haphazardly in the storage room on the 3d floor of Exley, on top of display cases in the Joe Webb Peoples Museum … Read more

Specimen of the Month October 2019: Mosasaur

MARINE LIZARD: MOSASAUR Or the Meuse Lizard Ward Cast: Original in Natural History Museum Paris Mosasaurus hoffmanni Mantell 1829 Maastricht, Netherlands.  Late Cretaceous ~66 million years ago     This Mosasaur cast  is a replica of the first described specimen of a Mosasaur, with the original on exhibit in the Natural History Museum in Paris. … Read more

Changing places: perspective on the role of collections

Crinoid specimen in the Joe Webb Peoples Museum (donated by Henry I Nettleton). Over the last few weeks, a second step in the dramatic reorganization of Wesleyan’s natural history collections has been undertaken. The old cabinets housing an extensive array of minerals, fossils and archaeological and ethnological specimens were falling into disrepair. With the green … Read more

Visualizing times before: how what we know shapes the stories we tell

Wesleyan’s natural history collections, which have begun to emerge into public and accessible spaces on campus in the last few years, are extensive, and include fossils, minerals, stuffed animals, bones, and animals in bottles with alcohol. We have only just scratched the surface of these collections, with the discovery and restoration projects of the Glyptodon … Read more