Mollusk Collection Enhancement Project, 2010-2013

[Page under development] 

The Challenge

For more than 100 years, the mollusk collection at Carnegie Museum of Natural History has been kept in substandard storage conditions with access challenges. Specimens were housed in wooden cabinets, which were the standard for specimen storage when the Section of Mollusks was established in 1896.  

Old wooden cabinets  


Over time, wooden cabinets release acidic vapors that can damage the calcium carbonate that make up mollusk shells—a condition known as Byne’s Disease. These Punctum minutissimum shells (1 mm diameter) should not be fuzzy. The fuzz is calcium carbonate on the outside of the shells caused by Byne's Disease.  

Punctum minutissimum with Byne's Disease 


The collection was housed on two levels within the Section of Mollusks. The upper level was accessible only by one staircase. 

 Stairs to upper level in Old Mollusks 


The Solution

In 2010, the Section of Mollusks at Carnegie Museum of Natural History was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for the project “Developing Resources for Research on Mollusks by Renovating Collection at Carnegie Museum of Natural History.” 


Project goals include 

  • Enhancing access 
  • Improving storage conditions 
  • Providing education and training opportunities 

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 0956264. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.