Collections & Research 2017-07-12T23:59:49+00:00

COLLECTIONS & RESEARCH

 

The Delaware Museum of Natural History’s research collections have a strong emphasis on birds and mollusks (shells), reflecting the original collecting interests of our founder, John E. du Pont. Both major collections are worldwide in scope, but also have a large number of specimens from the Delmarva Peninsula.

Earth’s Library: How the collection is used

Scientists around the world and at the Museum study our specimens to learn more about the natural world.  Their results are published in a variety of scientific journals and books.  In addition, staff continue to build and update databases containing information about our holdings and their data.

Most of these specimens were collected by scientists as they explored the Earth’s diversity of life and conducted scientific research.  Each specimen includes data: the species name, and where and when it was collected. They help document many of the changes in the natural world over the last century. But as the natural world continues to change, scientists continue to investigate new questions. Parts of the Earth, particularly the oceans, remain poorly explored. To meet these new challenges, the staff continues to add new specimens so our collections will continue to be useful to scientists in their research.

Birds

The Bird Department houses more than 113,000 bird specimens, including 36,000 egg clutches, and about 6,000 mammals. The collection is ranked in the top fifteen in the United States for our collections of birds, with the second largest collection of birds’ eggs in North America.

Mollusks

The Mollusk Department includes 220,000 lots of mollusks (about 2 million individual shells), and smaller collections of insects, other invertebrates and plants. DMNH is ranked in the top fifteen in the United States for our mollusks collection.

Mammals

The mammal collection consists of approximately 6,000 specimens (skins, skulls, & skeletons). About half of the collection is Philippine bats and rodents, most collected by D.S. Rabor; the remaining half is North American mammals. The mammal skin collection can be searched via VertNet.

Meet our scientists

Jean Woods, Ph.D.
Jean Woods, Ph.D.Director of Collections and Curator of Birds
Elizabeth Shea, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Shea, Ph.D.Curator of Mollusks
Alex Kittle
Alex KittleMollusks Collection Manager

C&R Spotlight

DMNH marine scientist joins international research expedition

Northern Neighbors expedition focuses on deepwater communities in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada through June 22 Elizabeth Shea, Ph.D., curator of mollusks at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, joined an international team of [...]

Shorebird and horseshoe crab connection highlighted in new film from the Delaware Shorebird Project

Shorebird and horseshoe crab connection highlighted in new film from the Delaware Shorebird Project Feast on the Beach: The Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Shorebird Connection film educates, entertains and encourages ecotourism The Delaware [...]

Feast on the Beach

Feast on the Beach: The Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Shorebird Connection Feast on the Beach: The Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Shorebird Connection, produced by the Delaware Shorebird Project, is a film produced to [...]