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Behind the scenes, natural history museums store biological samples from the field. Ryan Stephens

Museum specimens could help fight the next pandemic – why preserving collections is crucial to future scientific discoveries

Specimen preservation means researchers don't need to reinvent the wheel each time they ask a new question, making it critical for the advancement of science. But many specimens are discarded or lost.
Museum collections are repositories of specimens and data, including specimens, tissue samples and vocal recordings. from Wikimedia Commons

Taxonomy, the science of naming things, is under threat

Taxonomists are becoming as rare as some of the species they work on, and this puts museum collections and conservation efforts under threat and increases the risk of biosecurity incursions.
With a lot not on display, museums may not even know all that’s in their vast holdings. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Digitizing the vast ‘dark data’ in museum fossil collections

A tiny percentage of museums’ natural history holdings are on display. Very little of these vast archives is digitized and available online. But museums are working to change that.
Brazil’s gutted National Museum now resembles an archaeological ruin itself. AP Photo/Mario Lobao

Lesson from Brazil: Museums are not forever

It's a comforting falsehood that once an artifact joins a museum's collection, it's safe for eternity. Museums face many foes in the fight to preserve – a lack of funds might be the biggest.
Unstacked allows us to see what others’ are searching for among the 6 million items in the State Library of NSW’s collection. Unstacked/the State Library of NSW

Unstacked: revealing the hidden gems of the State Library of NSW

A new website allows you to see what other people search for in the State Library of NSW's vast collection of artefacts -- and discover things you'd never think to look up in the first place.

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