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Scientific Collection

Bonefish_Image   Herbarium_Collections  

The "Museum of Natural History" (later the "James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History") was established by state legislative mandate in 1872 to collect, preserve, skillfully prepare, display, and interpret Minnesota's diverse animal and plant life for scholarly research and teaching and for public appreciation, enrichment, and enjoyment.

The Bell Museum has exceptional scientific collections. Nearly 4 million specimens—mammals, birds, fishes, plants, mollusks and insects—provide opportunities for research and learning. From Eurasia to South America, Bell Museum scientists collect specimens to build the museum's biological collections, which serve as an international library for scientific research. In addition to collections from around the globe, the Bell Museum has the largest collection documenting Minnesota's biodiversity.

Bell Museum Collections

A Vision for Improving Collections Access

vision72.jpgWe’ve proposed an exciting vision for improving access to the Bell Museum’s scientific collections, including the plant collection. If funded, this initiative will create a dynamic web interface that will accomplish three goals:

  1. Enable the public (including educators) web access to Minnesota specimen records of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, plants, fungi, lichens, and mussels.
  2. Engage in dynamic, distributed database networks to repatriate Minnesota records residing outā€state and provide historic, geographic, and taxonomic information to partners in resource management.
  3. Illustrate the invasive species of Minnesota with digital images of specimens and provide geographic information as a baseline for statewide tracking of expanding invasive populations.

We’re optimistic that this vision will become a reality.

What Our Faculty Curators Do

Museum faculty engage in curation, research, scholarship, teaching, and public outreach. This unique synergy, possible only on the campus of a great university, distinguishes the Bell Museum of Natural History as an institution that:

The Collection, As Seen Through An Artist's Eye...

Artist-in-Residence, Jeff Millikin, delved into the Bell Museum's scientific collection to create his popular 'Preserving Memory' exhibit: