Natural history collections offer a number of unique physical and virtual opportunities to create formal and informal progressive learning environments. Collections provide direct interaction with biodiversity as it changes through time and space. Collections-based experiences lead to an increased understanding and substantive interaction with the living world. Recent studies demonstrate how nature and outdoor experiences can improve learning. We discuss how collections, and the data associated with collections, are a critical component linking nature and scientific inquiry. Partnerships that develop around collections and collections-based science can foster innovative educational and research experiences that are enhanced by access to museum specimens. Such collaborations can also facilitate new avenues of learning through not only traditional classroom settings, but also citizen science initiatives, cross-disciplinary field experiences, or other place-based learning environments. We emphasize how the recent surge in specimen-based digitization initiatives has resulted in unprecedented access to a wealth of biodiversity information and how this vastly expands the reach of natural history collections. Natural history collections, the data they contain, and the emergences of digital databases enable scientists and the public to address global, regional, and local issues related to biodiversity that were simply unachievable a decade ago.
Special issue 10
Monfils, A., K. Powers, C. Marshall, C.T. Martine, J. Smith, and A. Prather. 2017. Museum collections: Natural history training bridges time, space, and digital platforms. Southeastern Naturalist 16 (Special Issue 10) 47-57.