The specimens we collect and conserve document the occurrence of individual organisms in space and time. Taken together they form a vast (and growing) permanent record, which scientists can examine again and again, applying new analytical techniques and testing new hypotheses. Valuable information from collections benefits not only systematics – the study of the evolutionary relationships of organisms – but also many other fields of science and the humanities. Our collections are used by authors of popular guides and field guides to wildlife, artists of all kinds, law enforcement agencies and planners, ecologists and conservation biologists, and interested amateurs of all kinds.


Our collections also provide a basis for the reconstruction and understanding of life in the ancient times. More recent objects from all over the world document the artistic and technological accomplishments of indigenous peoples. California’s historical heritage is represented in our collections by objects as diverse as old photographs and newspapers, Hollywood costumes, and, even, automobiles.




Find out about the latest research by visiting Research and Collections News.