COLLECTIONS AND 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. More than 112,000 bird specimens and 220,000 lots of mollusks are housed behind-the-scenes on the top floor of the Museum. Here they are cared for by the Museum’s Collections & Research staff. Most of these specimens were collected by scientists as they explored the Earth’s diversity of life and conducted scientific research. Each specimen has data on what species it is, where it was collected, and when it was collected.
Scientists around the world and at the Museum continue to 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 databases containing information about our holdings and their data with the goal of making this information freely available online. The work of the Collections & Research Division is one of the most fundamental ways in which the Museum meets its mission to “excite and inform about the natural world through exploration and discovery.”
The specimens in our collections help document many of the changes that have occurred in the natural world over the last century. But the natural world continues to change and scientists continue to have new questions to investigate. Parts of the Earth, particularly the oceans, remain poorly explored. To meet these new challenges the staff continues to add new specimens so that our collections will continue to be useful to scientists in their research.
The collections are divided into two departments: The Bird Department is responsible for birds and mammals. The Mollusk Department is responsible for the collections of shells, insects, other invertebrates, and plants. Both major collections are worldwide in scope, but also have a large number of specimens from the Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) Peninsula. In fact, DMNH is ranked in the top fifteen in the United States for our collections of birds and mollusks, with the second largest collection of birds' eggs in North America.
There are also volunteer and intern opportunities in the Collections & Research Division.
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