Scientific collection

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Preparation of a plant for a Herbarium
Ornithological collection at the Museum of Comparative Zoology of Natural history of Harvard Museum of Natural History. Museum collections are tremendous repositories of specimens and data of many sorts, including phenotypes, tissue samples, vocal recordings, geographic distributions, parasites, and diet.
View in a Seedbank at the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station

As a scientific collection is referred to

  • any systematic collection of objects for the study of nature or of the human history
  • as well as the institutions, organizations or sub-organizations that build such collections preserve, develop systematically and make accessible and useful. These institutions often examine the collections also itself.

Important objects of research collections

Important goals of these collections are the items collected for research to make tangible and accessible, hold reference objects for comparison purposes as well as the systematization and naming with scientific names of the collected objects (taxonomy) .


The indexing of the collections was historically made by directories, catalogs, index cards, today supplemented by or replaced by databases with information such as e.g. scientific description, including picture, name, location, find circumstances, fund age, scientific analysis, phylogenetic relationships, DNA and isotope analysis results, analysis of pollutants, references, condition of the property, owner changes and name changes.[1]

Many organisations support the indexing and handling of their collections by specialist libraries.


Research collections hold especially museums, notably natural history museums, botanical gardens, universities and other research institutions. There are also independent research collections, such as the Zoological State Collection Munich with over 20 million stuffed animals for research purposes. Public authorities such as national geological agencies or police units hold partly research collections too.

The Natural History Museum in London - with one of the biggest collections worldwide - is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 70 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology.

Largest German Natural History Museum is the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, with over 30 million objects, including 9 million beetles and 275,000 jars with preserved in alcohol animals.[1]

Geology / Earth Sciences collections[edit]

Remerkable Earth Sciences collections:

Biological collections / Life Sciences collections[edit]

Typical collection objects biology are fossils of organisms, in particular plants and animals, plants, and animals killed, and be protected from decay, for example, by drying or preparation, but also live plants, animals, bacteria and viruses.

Plant collections are referred to as herbaria. Live plants are collected in the Botanical gardens, (trees ) in arboretums, aquariums, and partly in seedbanks, as well as e.g. algae from the Culture Collection of Algae Göttingen.[9] Live animals are collected in zoos and aquariums. The great Old Botanical Garden of the University of Göttingen e.g. represents about a collection of 17,000 species.[10]

Particularly well known in Germany are the major research collections of the Naturmuseum Senckenberg of Senckenberg Society for Nature Research in Frankfurt am Main with over 22 million natural objects (Herbaria 1 Million). Senckenberg offers to open up his collection to the SESAM database.

The Macaulay Library is the world's largest archive of animal sounds. It includes more than 175,000 audio recordings covering 75 percent of the world's bird species. There are an ever increasing numbers of insect, fish, frog, and mammal recordings. The video archive includes over 50,000 clips, representing over 3,500 species.

An example for a special collection are the objects of the Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen (German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures).

Remarkable and big Biological collections (more than 1,000,000 specimens) in Europe are

See more: List of herbaria in Europe

Remarkable and big Biological collections (more than 1,000,000 specimens) in the Americas are:

See more: List of herbaria in North America

Remarkable and big Biological collections worldwide see: List of herbaria

History / Human Heritage collections[edit]

Dendrochronology is located on the border between biology and history. An annual ring table or tree-ring calendar is a time series of tree ring s of dendrochronological art tree. Because of the specific growth of each tree species and regional differences of climate, such a table must always refer to a single species from the same region. Important tree chronologies are:

Remerkable History collections:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Die Sammlungen | Deutsche Naturwissenschaftliche Forschungssammlung
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  8. ^ IODP/ODP - Kernlager / Bremen Core Repository (BCR), Universität Bremen · Universitätssammlungen in Deutschland
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-01. Retrieved 2014-01-02.
  10. ^ Georg-August-Universität Göttingen - Alter Botanischer Garten
  11. ^ "The National Numismatic Collection". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved October 12, 2011.