Natural Science Collections Conservation

A Resource for Conserving and Preserving Natural Science Collections

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. These pages are 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.