Invertebrate Zoology

The Collectionnsf-traybig1 

Collection Renovation Project: Improving Resources for Specimen-based Research at Carnegie Museum  

The entomological collections at Carnegie Museum of Natural History are scientific resources of international significance, containing 7.4 million prepared specimens, and more than 8 million unprepared. A multi-phase effort initiated in 1981 continued through several stages, culminating in this proposal.

  • NSF AWARD DEB-9509570 (Oct. 1995 to Sep. 1999) provided storage and major improvements, meeting stated goals.
  • Phase II of the long-term renovation plan was accomplished with NSF AWARD DEB-9987522 (Oct. 2000 to March 2003), and resolved, in part, some urgent problems with storage of historical collections.


The rate at which Carnegie specimens are being used by researchers and students has risen dramatically in recent years with specimen loans and scientific visitors at the highest levels ever. Collection growth has addressed biodiversity issues and research needs, but lack of space and the condition of some historical collections prevent maximum efficient use of this resource.

GOALS nsf-storagebig1 

The proposed project accomplished the following goals in response to urgent need. Please click on each goal for more information:
1. STORAGE—Provided a storage solution for a classic space and national treasure, the Holland Room, by retrofitting 257 existing cabinets with steel shelving liners that accommodate both historical and new Holland drawers, compatible with USNM unit tray storage.
2. TRANSFER—Transferred historical pinned specimens from defective Holland drawers into new Holland drawers and unit trays and arranged collections in retrofitted space to optimize access, pest control, and visitor use.
3. CRAYFISH—Rehoused the Ortmann crustacean collection into new standardized glassware (1,842 lots), captured label data for output of new labels, then determined and arranged in systematic order.
4. FLEAS—Resolved storage issues with the Traub flea collection by capturing label data and labeling 6,446 slides, rehousing 6,046 fluid-preserved lots into new glassware, and after sorting of entire collection by consulting specialists, transferred and arranged all slides into modern storage for maximum accessibility.
5. CURATION—Provided sorting and preliminary curation of major insect groups in greatest need for improving accessibility to these important collections.