Museums are Full of Forgotten Treasures. Here’s How You Can Help Find Them

All-around the earth, in countless numbers of museums, there are thousands and thousands of specimens representing the acknowledged organic range of our earth. Each and every just one of individuals specimens is a actual physical snapshot of time, well prepared and preserved by a collector in a very carefully curated assortment. They are frequently pressed in the internet pages of textbooks, sketched into drawings and notes, or saved in the jars and drawers of museums. These specimens involve all kinds of when-dwelling species — and can arrive at again hundreds of years.

These are frequently beautifully and artfully shown with calligraphy labels and exciting notes about the location of the assortment every cupboard or drawer is full of surprises. By recording and transcribing these museum collections digitally, citizen researchers — people today like you — are opening up obtain to this biodiversity facts for use in investigation and instruction.

Notes from Nature

Michael Denslow is a founding member of Notes From Nature, a citizen science undertaking on the Zooniverse Platform. He says Notes From Nature is a somewhat distinct type of citizen science undertaking.

“A good deal of the Zooniverse assignments test to emphasis on answering unique scientific thoughts,” Denslow says. “This undertaking is a minor distinct due to the fact we are dealing with pure historical past collections and associated facts. There is a big force to digitize and mobilize this facts for general public use. It is an engagement instrument, a instrument to do digitization and to convey in instructional elements.”

Just take Component: Help Digitize Museum Collections by means of

Some participants have used the photos in resourceful approaches. One volunteer takes the photos to develop art. Other individuals have produced some astonishing finds.

“We found a specimen collected by Darwin blended in with the other specimens,” Denslow says. “There are a good deal of neighborhood heroes and exciting things that people today uncover. We’ve crafted an awesome community. A good deal of volunteers are fascinated in the historical past of the specimens. 


The WeDigBio Undertaking, or Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections, taps citizen researchers to work with museum collections both on the internet or in particular person at events organized all around the earth.

Austin Mast is a investigation botanist and professor at Florida State College, exactly where he serves as director of the Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium. He describes how every undertaking fits into the even bigger WeDigBio photo.

Dark Facts: The Susceptible Treasures Sitting down on Museum Cabinets

“We proceed due to the fact we noticed fast payoffs,” Mast says. “Creating electronic facts about the specimens and serving it on the internet can make it achievable to aggregate facts from throughout quite a few collections with relative ease and can make individual specimens very easily discoverable. Anyone can now go to an aggregator of this electronic facts, this sort of as or, and map all of the digitized specimens of their favourite species.” 

Experts often use this citizen science facts for investigation. 

iDigBio is the U.S. Nationwide Science Foundation’s Nationwide Source for Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections. The software tracks investigation that uses the far more than 120 million specimen documents that it aggregates. In 2019 by itself, they documented perfectly around 500 papers making use of the facts. These topics bundled conservation assessments, species distribution modeling, and automated species identification.

You can take part on the internet by signing up for the Les Herbonautes, DigiVol, Notes from Nature, or Smithsonian Electronic Volunteers. You’ll be supporting digitize collections ranging from insects to mammals, crops and far more. 

“People who really don’t always have levels in these fields have generally produced a contribution to our discipline,” says Denslow. “There’s a extended historical past of that. If this is of fascination to you, remember to come! Do a few of transcripts and see what grabs you. Enable us know what you like and what you really don’t like.”

Discover Additional Citizen Science Assignments by Viewing