What’s your favorite natural history museum? Most people will name one of the big museums -The Smithsonian, The Field Museum, The American Museum. These museums are the heavy-hitters of the museum world; they have huge and diverse collections, their researchers tackle the big issues in their fields, they are destinations for locals and visitors alike, and they’re names are on the tip of the populations’ collective tongue.
But, what people forget, or may not know, is that small museums can house some truly incredible specimens, and that their collections fuel lines of research big and small. Burpee Museum falls into this category. Burpee’s specimens are used by researchers from near and far and in projects big and small. This week alone, Burpee Museum has hosted Dr. Thomas Carr from Carthage College and Dr. Mark Goodwin from the University of California Museum of Paleontology to research our flagship specimens “Jane” the juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex and “Homer” the sub-adult Triceratops, as well as Joel Greenberg one of the most prominent Passenger Pigeon researchers in North America. Burpee Museum shares this rank with small regional museums, city museums, and some small college museums. These museums’ collections can supplement data gathered from other institutions, and many drive their own lines of research. They are small but mighty.
This summer Burpee Museum was fortunate to host a collections and exhibits intern from Beloit College, Stephanie Morgan. Stephanie worked in the museum’s collection building the frame work for a new, digital collections database. She also created a movie about the importance of small museum collections, check it out below!