American institutions have a long history of collecting plant, animal and geological specimens to document the diversity of the planet. Today approximately 820 million zoological, botanical, geological, paleontological, and paleobotany specimens are held within science museums, archaeological repositories or scientific research collections. The Heritage Health Index, a 2005 survey of the state of our nation’s collection holding institutions found that over one quarter of these specimens are at immediate risk due to poor preservation conditions. This site is intended as an educational tool for museum professionals working to address these concerns. Information is divided into three sections with a general overview of conservation concerns for natural science collections, more specific information on challenges specific to different types of specimens, and a collection of useful and educational resources.
In 2013, the American Museum of Natural History and Yale University’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and the Peabody Museum of Natural History were awarded an Institute for Museum and Library Services‘ (IMLS) National Leadership Grant to fund a three-year project devoted to the development of best practices for recoloring faded mammal taxidermy mounts, especially those in habitat dioramas: Recoloring Faded Taxidermy: Research into the Properties and Applicability of Dye Materials for Conservation Treatment.
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