lepidopterists have anything to learn from ... birders ?

mbpi at juno.com mbpi at juno.com
Tue Apr 9 22:05:09 EDT 2002

As I recall...when I worked at AMNH, I was told that the museum receieved
countless "donations" of specimens...many poorly preserved and/or
inadequately documented.  By the same token, the museum's imposed ethical
creed forbade them to dispose, sell or barter these donations; so, they
are inundated with scientifically "worthless" specimens that either "take
up space," or are creatively utilized through "lending" and "educational"
programs to schools, community groups, exhibits, and assorted other
outreach programs.  Let's give them SOME credit!  It's like getting
someone's cast-off wardrobe (which I've been subjected to on countless
occasions), and not really wanting those cast-offs, while also not
wanting to offend the "giver" in their philanthropic intent.  It's a
double-edged sword...

As for all the "collecting" that resident museum curators supposedly
do... from what I've observed, the age of "trophy collecting" has pretty
much gone with the wind.  The major "big collections" are received or
acquired from private collectors, many with HUGE "price tags" that
contradict the "cause for furthering scientific knowledge" of the
collectors' supposed motives (!)  

And all those "cardboard boxes" stacked up in less than adequate
storage...that's where I come in!  Granted, there is no "monetary
compensation" for someone like me who sees the need to weed through the
stacks of specimens, transfer them to drawers and label them...that is
left to the dedicated "volunteers" who spend countless hours performing
the "mundane" tasks that nobody on the "payroll" wants (much less cares)
to do.  And there are many people who have spent YEARS doing just that...
 Unfortunately, I need to be on the "payroll" to continue such a venture,
not being "independently wealthy" or retired.

So, museums aren't QUITE the "happy collectors" that Ron envisions them
to be...

I hate to say it...but...some of you really NEED to expand your horizons
beyond your glass towers (!)

M.B. Prondzinski

On Tue, 09 Apr 2002 14:17:28 -0400 Ron Gatrelle <gatrelle at tils-ttr.org>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jim Taylor" <drivingiron at earthlink.net>
> To: <idleweed at tusco.net>; <leps-l at lists.yale.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2002 9:47 AM
> Subject: Re: Subject: RE: lepidopterists have anything to learn from 
> ...
> birders ?
> > I have donated (and donate) to the Florida State Collection of
> Arthropods,
> > and I intend my collection to go there when I croak. I think John 
> Heppner
> is
> > eager to get leps from different parts of the country.
> >
> > Jim Taylor
> This is very true.  However, if they are moths they are apt to get a 
> lot
> better curatorial care than butterflies there.   I know space is 
> very used
> up there - but the way valuable _butterfly_ collections donated 
> years ago
> (Arbogast, Heitzman etc) are just stacked it the isles in cardboard 
> boxes
> waiting to be crushed or knocked over is a disgrace.  John is not a
> butterfly person -- and it shows.
> HE IS ONE FINE FELLA - This is about curation and space - not John.
> Some museums are not keen on receiving specimens only because the 
> Museums
> have cut way back on staff, budget and no more space in the morgue.
> Otherwise they will never turn down specimens -  these "scientific"
> instructions are the greatest collectors of ALL TIME.  Where else 
> can one
> go and find 10 drawers of Cabbage Whites.  Does one want to see 
> extinct
> leps?   They are in the Big museums by the hundreds.  Scientific
> collecting?   Most people with a postage stamp-butterfly-collection 
> make
> due with just one or two pair.  I digress.
> OK, I'll say it.  The most adamant and game hog collectors are with
> museums.  Hey, they are the ones still shooting the birds.  They 
> love it --
> that is why they are there.  They are not some noble cut above the 
> "lay"
> collector. Myth.  Go to a museum and get to know the people - they 
> are up
> o their necks in dead stuff.
> Ron
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