The AMNH Richard Gilder Graduate School is supported by the Museum’s vast and world-renowned collections—32 million specimens and cultural artifacts. These are considered among the great natural history collections in the world and an irreplaceable and invaluable scientific and educational resource. Many distinct portions of the collection—such as vertebrate fossils, birds, and spiders—are the finest and most complete anywhere. Though collecting in the natural sciences is a different enterprise than it was 100 years ago, the AMNH is currently in one of its most active collecting periods in its history. The collections grow at the rate of 90,000 specimens annually and the AMNH has invested in new areas in response to emerging scientific questions and research needs. The collections provide the investigative foundation that supports the work of scientific staff and visiting researchers as well as the scientific authority that makes the AMNH an international center for scientific and public education.
The collections are annotated, enhanced, and explained with a wealth of scientific information and documentation—from handwritten correspondence to digitized data to histological and chromosome preparation slides. More than 200 scientific staff use the collections in ground-breaking research in molecular biology, genomics, informatics, computational biology, scientific visualization, biodiversity science, astrophysics, and studies in human cultures. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows work with AMNH curators on collections-based research. Each year, the AMNH receives approximately 900 research visits from international scholars and makes nearly 300 collections loans. The AMNH is at the leading edge of community-wide efforts to preserve and enhance natural science collections, through its highly-skilled group of collection management professionals and conservators.
The AMNH’s newest research collection, launched in May 2001, is a cryo-facility holding frozen tissue samples representing the DNA of a wide range of species. This collection supports a broad range of comparative genetic, genomic, and proteomic research and has the capacity to house up to one million specimens representing the DNA of a wide range of species from bacteria to whales.
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The AMNH Anthropology Collections are worldwide in scope, with more than 540,000 archaeological and ethnological objects from hundreds of cultures both extant and extinct, along with 700,000 pages of related documentation. Areas of particular strength include African, Asian, and North American ethnography; archaeological artifacts from North and Central America; and biological anthropology.
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These include 18 million specimens, representing 300,000 species of insects. The Division also manages non-insect collections of approximately seven million specimens, including the world’s largest collection of spiders, 3.5 million specimens of mollusks, and important holdings of annelids (especially leeches), crustaceans, cnidarians, and echinoderms.
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AMNH houses over 4.75 million paleontology specimens, including the world’s largest and most important collection of vertebrate fossils, with extensive collections of Mongolian and North American dinosaurs and fossil mammals, as well as important collections of fossil ammonoids, Cenozoic mollusks, and other fossil invertebrates.
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These collections comprise over 131,858 rock, gem, meteorite, and mineral specimens; more than 1.5 Terabytes of data taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and large ground-based telescopes; nearly 1.0 Terabytes of supercomputer-generated data that represent the basic processes controlling star formation and the Bliss collection of antique scientific instruments.
Go to the Physical Sciences Collections
These include a collection of approximately 300,000 amphibian and reptile specimens representative of all families, with more than 600 type specimens; a fish collection comprising close to two million specimens preserved in alcohol, more than 35,000 skeleton specimens, and close to 30,000 larvae; and a mammal collection that includes 270,000 specimens. It also comprises one of the largest bird collections in the world, with more than one million specimens (including skins, skeletons, alcoholic preparations, eggs, nests, and tissue samples) and representing nearly 99% of all known species.
Go to Vertebrate Zoology Collections