Much of what we know about biodiversity and its origins comes from the collection, preservation and ongoing study of natural specimens and cultural remains.
Museum collections are libraries of the world’s biological, cultural and environmental history and are vital to our ability to interpret the past and understand our place in its future. As such, museums are stewards of this history, preserving it for posterity while fostering an informed appreciation of our complex and ever-changing world.
The Florida Museum’s Natural History Department is dedicated to understanding and preserving biological diversity and cultural heritage. Utilizing millions of specimens and artifacts housed within the Museum, our scientists are at the forefront of exploring some of today’s most pressing and fascinating scientific issues.
The Florida Museum houses more than 40 million specimens and objects, making us the Southeast’s largest natural history museum and one of the top five nationally in terms of collections size. Many of our individual department collections rank among the top 10 in the U.S., and some rank among the top 10 globally. These vast holdings are available locally and internationally to scholars, scientists, students and the public through on-site study, public exhibitions, loans, publications, television and the internet.
World Issues the Museum Addresses
The Florida Museum manages some of the most comprehensive and widely utilized collections in the world. While the Museum’s primary geographic strengths are in Florida, the southeastern U.S. and the Caribbean Basin, its collections and research programs span the globe to include every continent and nearly every island group on Earth. These collections and related research initiatives inform wide-ranging issues of global change that affect the health and sustainability of Earth and its inhabitants, including:
- Climate change
- Invasive species
- Ecosystem services and human health
- Human interactions with the environment
- Biodiversity — loss and extinction, endangered species
- Environmental conservation, management and sustainability
- Public understanding of science
- Cultural heritage and change
- Water/air quality
Our Impact on the Future
The Florida Museum continues the voyage of discovery each day through its collections and research initiatives. The Museum provides a rare window into Florida’s ancient past, illustrating the rich abundance of life and unique habitats pre-dating the arrival of humans by millions of years.
Archaeological collections record the presence of the first Floridians who hunted the great mammoths and mastodons, to the Calusa, Timucua and the people who greeted Ponce de Leon and his contemporaries thousands of years later. This record of life and culture is irreplaceable, the foundation upon which our understanding of modern Florida is based, and the starting point we use to assess changes to its ecosystems and inhabitants.
The enormous scientific collections at the Florida Museum, and the aggressive research initiatives of faculty, staff and students, play a crucial role in documenting and understanding biotic and cultural change. By creating new knowledge through research, and translating these findings into effective public education programs and exhibits, the Museum touches thousands of lives and raises awareness of the natural world. It inspires people to appreciate and preserve our surroundings for generations to come.
The Museum will continue its long tradition of active collecting, research and student training to prepare the next generation of conservationists, ecologists, anthropologists and evolutionary biologists for the challenges ahead, protecting the diverse and astounding complexity of life on Earth.