Once a specimen is properly housed in a collection there is still much work to be done. Often fossils need preparation – meaning the process of exposing the bones from the surrounding matrix, cleaning, and repairing it for eventual study and display. Preparation is an important part of making specimens accessible for use.
Museums and institutions with fossil collections often have far more specimens than they can possibly display. You may wonder what is the point of having so many objects in a museum if people can’t see them. It’s important to remember that museum displays are just one way in which an institution can share its collections with the public. Specimens are often made available for visiting scholars to study, or sent out on loan to be studies or displayed at other institutions. Sometimes small samples of specimens are taken for analysis. Data, images, and information on the specimens can also be shared. Establishing good policies and specific procedures on how to do this is an important part of managing a collection.
For more on these issues see these pages:
- Visitation and access
- Preparation, molding and casting
- Data and data management
To further explore any of the topics covered in this site please see the Tools and Resources page.