Category: Museums

Chicago becomes a museum to the devastating intersection of racism and climate change

Read the full story at Fast Company.

The MacArthur Foundation invited 29 of its genius grantees to showcase work exploring issues of environmental racism.

Which flowers bloom first and why?

Read the full story at JStor Daily.

The time of year when a flower blooms is influenced by many factors, including genetics, weather, and pollinators. But climate change is causing bloom times to happen earlier across ecosystems. According to several Boston-area scientists and curators at the Arnold Arboretum, over the past hundred years the temperature has risen 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit in the city. This is not just making the city a hotter place for people to live—it’s getting warmer for the plants, too.

Abraham J. Miller-Rushing and a team of four researchers at the arboretum wanted to determine if the city’s increasing temperatures were affecting flowering times. As they note, “The most convincing evidence that living organisms are responding to global warming comes from flowering plants, which are especially responsive to warm weather in the spring.”

The team used the arboretum’s extensive collection of herbarium specimens, which include dried flowers and harvest records alongside their living specimens, to analyze the effects of climate change on plants in Boston.

State museum puts fossil, biological specimens online

Read the full story in the Las Cruces Bulletin.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science (NMMNHS) has opened the door to more than 110,000 fossil and biological specimens. Thanks to an anonymous gift, the museum’s collection records are now publicly available through Arctos, an online database, at

Museums and summer camps are excluding non-white people

Read the full story at Massive Science.

Unbarred by school district lines, informal science education isn’t equally accessible.

Second Brazilian museum fire in two years reignites calls for reform

Read the full story in Nature.

A recent fire at a natural history museum in Minas Gerais is forcing some researchers to relive the pain of losing priceless specimens and artefacts.

A VW Beetle Spotted in the Insect Collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Read the full story from Colossal.

While walking through the Cleveland Museum of Natural History earlier this week, Redditor muppaphone spotted a toy VW Bug hidden amongst a collection of taxidermied beetles. 

Efficiency upgrade helps Minnesota museum further its educational mission

Read the full story at Midwest Energy News.

An advanced heat recovery system saves money, slices carbon emissions, and serves as a tool to teach others about the technology.

Taxonomy, the science of naming things, is under threat

Read the full story at The Conversation.

Museums are cathedrals of science, but they are under threat worldwide as part of a malaise of undervaluing museum collections and the field of taxonomy, the science of naming biodiversity.

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is the latest example. Te Papa confirmed a restructure in July, following leaked reports. Facing sustained backlash and disquiet in the science community, the museum announced an international review of its collections and has since scaled back its restructure plans.

But jobs remain on the line even though the review panel found the museum didn’t have enough staff to look after all of its collections.

What Was Lost in Brazil’s Devastating Museum Fire

Read the full story in The Atlantic.

Two hundred years of work—and millions of priceless specimens—have been destroyed in a preventable tragedy.

Grief and Anger Mingle After Devastating Brazil Museum Fire

Read the full story in National Geographic.

For more than 200 years, Brazil’s National Museum—or Museu Nacional—stood as the country’s oldest and most important safeguard for its heritage. Now, one of Latin America’s largest natural history museums is a burnt-out husk of its former self. A massive fire broke out at the museum late September 2, torching its exhibits and some 90 percent of the museum’s 20 million artifacts. There were no reported fatalities.

As firefighters worked to put out the blaze, some museum staffers and volunteers pulled what they could from the building, including part of the museum’s mollusk collection. The museum’s Bendegó meteorite, the largest ever found in Brazil, is one of the few objects that survived direct contact with the flames. Scientists also hold out hope that some of the objects in the archaeology and paleontology collections may have been stored in metal containers that shielded them.

In an September 5 email, Museu Nacional curator Débora Pires wrote that the entomology and arachnology collections were completely destroyed, as was most of the mollusk collection. However, technicians had braved the fire to save 80 percent of the mollusk holotypes—the specimens that formally serve as the global references for a given species. The museum’s vertebrate specimens, herbarium, and library were housed separately and survived the fire. And recently, researchers had 3-D scanned some of the museum’s Egyptian artifacts, preserving at least their forms for posterity.

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