Natural History Museums: Directions for Growth

Natural History Museums: Directions for Growth

Natural History Museums: Directions for Growth

Natural History Museums: Directions for Growth


All persons involved with natural history museums- from administrators to exhibit designers- will find this work useful. The chapters in the volume provide a general overview as well as address specific topics concerning the roles and functions of natural history museums. Topics in this survey include conservation, care, use, management, and preservation of collections; the role of exhibits and other educational materials, as well as ideas and guidelines for some exciting new approaches for this facet of natural history museums; and, in addition, useful information about possible sources of funding for natural history museums.


Museums are dynamic organizations—sometimes changing slowly, but changing and evolving nonetheless. Efforts to assess and analyze changes benefit both an individual museum and the profession at large. Such efforts are not merely to document where the profession stands at a point in time, but are to provide some insight to issues that should be further questioned, discussed, and addressed. Considering the diversity of museums that exist, their missions, organizational structures, functions, staff, and so on, it is not surprising that analytical efforts require the perspectives of many individuals.

With these thoughts in mind, a symposium entitled [New Directions and Professional Standards for Natural History Museums] was organized for the 1988 joint meeting of the Mountain-Plains Museums Association and the Midwest Museums Conference in Kansas City. Speakers were invited to submit papers dealing with topics they felt were critical issues for natural history museums. the papers in this volume are based on 18 of the 22 presentations given at the symposium and reflect the diversity of concerns held by museum professionals.

The issues facing natural history museums range from the general to the specific. Several authors considered the role and mission of natural history museums. Humphrey described a model for the philosophy of a university natural history museum, taking into consideration the unique constraints and opportunities offered by a university setting. Laerm and Edwards discussed the results and implications of a survey of state museums of natural history. the role museums might fulfill as part of a state's mandate to manage wildlife was presented by Shropshire and Shropshire. Three authors summarized critical historical perspectives in an effort to question where natural history museums are headed (Porter, Denton, and Lintz), and Choate provided very practical., useful information concerning the availability of foundation funding.

Natural history museums constantly face the problems of preserving and managing their collections. However, during the last 10 years, a more analytical approach has developed in the area of collections care. Traditional methods have been . . .

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