Museums and integrity of types

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Mon Sep 29 12:09:00 EDT 1997

Even museums in developed nations have to make substantial investments 
and commitments to maintaining the integrity of specimens (all specimens 
including types).  I hear from some of my museum colleagues that 
curatorial budgets are always an issue and sometimes compete withe 
educational missions.  

However, there is another dimensions---the risk of war---which has 
certainly resulted in the destruction of museum collections and types in 
Europe.  I don't know whether the wars in the Middle East, Africa or 
Eastern Europe have hit museums, but the risk is always 
there---particularly since museums are often among the strongest 
structures in a town,  hence likely to be used as fortifications and 
thus be targetted.  That's why paratypes distributed to other museums 
are important (but never quite replace the holotypes, I guess).  I 
anticipate that electronic and molecular documentation of types is going 
to become increasingly important to assure the security of types 
(particularly as more and more sibling species that differ only 
biochemically are discovered). 

M. Gochfeld 

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