In 1849, the Board of Regents of the new University of Wisconsin directed the curation of the state’s plants, animals and minerals in a “cabinet of natural history.”
Now, that founding piece of scientific inquiry is re-forming — digitally.
A new UW2020 initiative will centralize the databases of the university’s five natural history museums, which have separated over the decades to specialize and accommodate growing collections. The 1.3-million-specimen Wisconsin State Herbarium will coordinate with the zoology, geology, entomology and anthropology museums to merge records in a way that allows researchers to study the full scope of natural artifacts in one central location. This digital cabinet of natural history will link the museums’ combined 9 million-plus specimens that span all seven continents, the moon and Mars.