Natural History Museum Begins Vertebrate Preservation Project

Dr. Krista Fahy and Curatorial Assistant Julia Schorr examine museum specimens that are being transferred from the wooden boxes to metal containers to better preserve them.

SBMNH

Dr. Krista Fahy and Curatorial Assistant Julia Schorr examine museum specimens that are being transferred from the wooden boxes to metal containers to better preserve them.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has begun a six-month preservation effort for its Vertebrate Zoology collection. The project involves moving a 45,000-specimen collection from wooden conservation boxes to 37 metal conservation cabinets. The new containers prevent insect damage and acidic off gassing present in the wooden boxes, which date to the 1960s.

The critical renovations were made possible by a $73,000 grant from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment as well as donations from the Container Alliance and private donors. According to Krista Fahy, the museum's curator of Vertebrate Zoology, the new cabinets cost a total of $230,000. The Container Alliance provided the use of a minus-20℉ freezer unit, which allows the museum to freeze and remove pests from specimens before they are transferred to the metal containers.

By summer, museum employees and volunteers will have moved 25,000 avian, 11,500 mammal, and 6,000 fish and reptile specimens into the more chemically stable containers, allowing them to be better preserved and studied in the future. According to Fahy, “This project will ensure the conservation of this material for decades to come.” The new cabinets also make space for new collections and research growth at the museum.

Further improvement projects are in the museum's near future, including the renovation of Fleischmann Auditorium.