Diversity of life conserved in jars
One important task undertaken by natural history museums is to collect and preserve artifacts – for example, animals, plants or fossils – that document life on Earth. Sometimes, specimens of extinct or highly endangered species are only hidden away in museum storage. That’s why collections of irreplaceable originals make up very important archives of biological diversity (biodiversity).
Most major scientific collections are used for research purposes. Combined with modern molecular biological research methods, we can now begin to understand the history of life based on ancient objects. The museum links this historical information to current research topics.
These collections are incredibly fascinating, even for non-scientists. The organisms conserved in cylindrical jars are strangely aesthetically pleasing. In order to give visitors an insight into this important field of behind-the-scenes museum work, a showcase has been set up in the OZEANEUM’s Ocean exhibit to display selected collection pieces and explain the collection’s purpose. Liquid specimens and a small collection of porpoise skulls from the German Oceanographic Museum are presented on a virtual collection shelf across two floors. For example, several labels from the cabinet cover hang there. They provide the information documented on the individual documents, like and ID badge: catalog numbers, scientific names, date and location the item was found, collector, etc. This allows the showcase to project the character of a well-maintained, if somewhat Spartan, archive space.