AUBURN UNIVERSITY – For the first time, the Auburn University Museum of Natural History is opening its doors to the public. On homecoming Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to noon, the museum will host an open house, offering the community a unique opportunity to meet the curators and explore the more than 1 million specimens found in the museum’s eight collections. Giveaways and live-animal demonstrations will be included in the event, which will take place on campus at the new Biodiversity Learning Center, located between Rouse Life Sciences Building and M. White Smith Hall.
The Biodiversity Learning Center is the new home for the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, which features collections of specimens representing the rich history of Alabama, the Southeast and beyond. Sponsored by the College of Sciences and Mathematics, the museum is used primarily by Auburn University professors and students and well as researchers from around the world conducting biodiversity research. Periodically, museum curators will extend the collections beyond campus and provide specimens to outside researchers and K-12 outreach programs. However, the museum is not ordinarily open to the public.
“The new Biodiversity Learning Center is a state-of-the-art collections facility that allows, for the first time, all of Auburn’s natural history collections to be housed under a single roof. The new building provides much needed space for the growth of collections and will greatly enhance our ability to share the collections with the public and further serve the needs of Auburn’s land-grant mission of education and outreach,” said Jason Bond, director of the Museum of Natural History. “We are incredibly proud of our museum collections and the Biodiversity Learning Center, and we hope everyone will be able to take advantage of this great opportunity to see more of what Auburn University has to offer.”
For more than 25 years, the Museum of Natural History was located in Funchess Hall and the Physiology Building on campus, and Auburn has maintained natural history collections for more than 50 years. The museum has eight collections including: fishes; mammals; arachnids and myriapods; aquatic invertebrates; plants; amphibians and reptiles; birds; and insects. Some of the specimens in the museum were first described by Auburn University professors, such as a spider species that was recently discovered in Auburn by Bond and Charles Ray, a research fellow in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Myrmekiaphila tigris, also known as the “Auburn Tiger Trapdoor Spider.”
“Visitors will get to see the collections firsthand, have the opportunity to interact with the curators and collections staff, and experience the rich biodiversity of Alabama and the world,” said Bond.
For more information on the Auburn University Museum of Natural History, visit the website at www.auburn.edu/cosam/mnh.
The mission of the Auburn University Museum of Natural History is to conduct biodiversity research, preserve and document our region and planet’s biodiversity, and to lead and promote activities related to natural history education and outreach for Auburn University and all citizens of the state of Alabama.
(Contributed by Candis Birchfield.)