philip l. wright zoological museum


I’m in Missoula to film a SciShow episode and do an event with Hank tonight - but this morning I dropped by the UMZM to check things out and chat with the current curator. It was great to visit again - they’re still working on raising funds to move the collections into a new space, but the activity in the museum is good and there’s a number of people volunteering and preparing specimens.

The Wildlife Society group on campus cleaned and articulated the wolf that we skinned in our early episodes! So that was wild to see again.

Photos: articulated hare, osprey skeleton. The fourth photo is an juvenile bear with its adult teeth pushing through. I miss this place so much!

weavrrcat  asked:

Hi there Emily! Um, I have a little question for you. I am a BFA working on a minor in Biology. I recently learned that my university (CSU-Pueblo) used to have a little museum in the first floor of our Bio. building. It was moved off into a 12' x 8' closest of the taxonomy room about 15 years ago when the first floor museum became classrooms. I'm working with a professor here to organize it but, it's daunting and we're in low spirits. What's the point if all our hard work if no one will see it?

This is both great, and very sad. Your question what’s the point in all our hard work if no one will see it? is the sort of sentiment that results in so many collections and archives falling into states of disrepair and neglect - but I totally understand your feelings because for a very long time I asked myself the same about the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum. When I realized I couldn’t get people on campus to care enough to stop by and see the museum, I started a blog. (spoiler alert: it was this blog)

I will say that if you dedicate your time to this place - to organizing the specimens and working towards the ultimate goal that someday they will be seen - your work will pay off. You will begin to feel a personal investment in the collection. You will stumble across an item that sparks an interest you didn’t realize you had, and in the dark of that little closet you will feel an unusual connection to this item. You will begin learning about not only the history of the specimens but also what they represent: the diversity of our natural world. You’ll go to a party and someone will ask you what you’ve been up to and you won’t be able to find the words to express that you’re invested in an ongoing relationship with dead things. You will inexplicably feel a little bit of outrage when someone flippantly remarks that you are wasting your time.

You’ll realize that maybe, if you want to share this with others, maybe it’s on your shoulders. Maybe you don’t want to shoulder that responsibility and I certainly wouldn’t blame you - but maybe you’ll help inspire a feeling of ownership in another person near you. Maybe your hard work will eventually pay off and some day in the future that collection can meet its full research potential when we as a society can agree that museums are worth having in dedicated spaces with the resources they require to spread that feeling of ownership to more than just you and me. And maybe we can look back on all of this in a few decades and laugh at how hard we had to work together in order to make it all happen.