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Davis, California

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Biodiversity Museum Day highlights campus collections

This last Sunday, UC Davis hosted its first Biodiversity Museum Day.

“We haven’t had a turn out like this since Picnic Day,” said Lynn Kimsley, professor and director for the Bohart Museum of Entomology, “I would like to make this an annual event.”

UC Davis opened up four of its biological collections to public exhibition. The Bohart Museum of Entomology and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology was in Academic Surge. The Center for Plant Diversity was in the Sciences Laboratory Building. The Botanical Conservatory was in the greenhouses.

Although each museum is open separately on other occasions, this event is the first time all four museums were open simultaneously.

Biodiversity Museum Day sought to reach out to the community to expose the public to the world of biology. Being a community targeted event, the exhibits had something for people of all ages and all education levels.

In the Bohart Museum of Entomology there were hundreds of bugs — living and dead — to be observed. Each station contained a placard with information about the specimen being portrayed. The information was written for children and for those uneducated in biology, so they could understand and learn something about the organism. However, they also listed the species name and other information meaningful to the more biologically inclined.

Similarly, in the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, there were many visual exhibits to interest the younger crowd, while a host of volunteers fielded questions and provided demonstrations.

“I think it’s great,” said senior plant biology major Allyson Ayalon, a volunteer at the herbarium. “Usually we only get graduate students doing research.”

One entomology professor even arranged for his class to attend the event in order to supplement their education.

Biodiversity Museum Day also provided some campus museums some exposure that they normally do not receive.

Volunteers were able to gain practical experience by representing exhibits at the museums and opening themselves up to questions from the visitors. Having to explain biological concepts to people of varying ages and educations gave them well-rounded practice in communication.

“No matter what your focus in your field is, you can always benefit from knowing how to communicate well,” Kimsley said, “And what better way to start out than in a non-threatening environment, talking to kids?

For those who may have missed Biodiversity Museum Day, or just wish to visit the museums again, there are still opportunities. The Bohart Museum of Entomology has monthly openings and does demonstrations on Picnic Day — including cockroach races and maggot art.

The Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology arranges free tours for individuals within the UC system — tours are available to the public at $3 per person, with a minimum cost of $30.

The Center for Plant Diversity’s herbarium is an open resource for students. There is also an upcoming event “Botanical Teas in the Herbarium” on Feb. 29 for anyone interested in plants — this event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. in 1026 Sciences Laboratory building.

The Botanical Conservatory is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and also schedules tours.

ALEX STANTON can be reached at science@theaggie.org.


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