gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Tue May 16 06:56:59 EDT 2000
Ken's message (under the wyandot thread) reminds me of something which I
posted a year or so ago, but seems timely. When I was in Malaya about
six years ago, I learned that the largest "private" collection was being
divided up and sold by the widow. It was a collection of substantial
systematic and biogeographic value but I don't even know if institutions
were informed or encouraged to bid for it or if they would have had the
resources to compete with many who might have wanted just a few choice
(but high-priced) specimens. I don't know the outcome of this, but it
seemed extremely sad.
So Ken's message that people should make arrangements to assure that
their collections go to an appropriate museum really needs to be
emphasized (perhaps collectors feel that it's bad luck to make such
arrangements in advance---like not making out a will). And I suppose
that some will-probates have had to deal with collections (I know
they've dealt with stamp collections). (Read Paul Ehrlich's piece on why
butterfly collecting shouldn't be like stamp collecting).
Also, like a recent thread on releases, there are museums and there are
museums. I recently visited a small wildlife refuge municipal museum
that had received a donated collection of butterflies and had it out for
exhibit (although it was totally irrelevant to the local fauna). So
collections should go to research museums that have a reasonable
possibility of curating them responsibly.
And, while we're at it, photographers shouldn't get off the hook (nor
those who keep detailed field notes). If photo records are being
considered vouchers, arrangements should be made to see that they are
appropriately archived an institutionalized. I believe the VIREO
collection of bird pictures at the Philadelphia Academy, serves that
role for birds.
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