Museums

Great Auk Pinguinis impennis ©Mike Pennington / Great Auk (Pinguinis impennis) specimen, Kelvingrove, Glasgow Website
Dead as a Dodo…

Museums not only house exhibits for the public to admire or learn from, but they are often home to larger collections that most of us never see, down in the bowels of the earth may be thousands of birdskins, eggs or nests for each generation to study. Some will allow even amateur ornithologists access to draw or make diagnostic notes. Many now have huge amounts of information on line including collections of scientific papers. They may, too, answer queries that stump everyone else.

Listed below are Museums which either house significant collections of bird skins and fossil records or host the study of birds and house appropriate information so that they may be considered a source for amateur birders and professional ornithologists alike. We would love to hear from you if you think you have a link we should add.

Museums are sometimes part of Universities and some universities hold their own collections of specimens which may be available to study. They will also house scientific papers and I have included some Universities below that have large and well reputed ornithology departments.

Each country and state page now carries a section with relevent museums and university departments listed with appropriate links.

Museums & Universities
  • Alaska University Museum

    Website
    The mission of the University of Alaska’s Bird Collection is to document avian diversity and its distribution and to serve as a resource for research and education. As time series of specimens have been developed and technology has increased, so has the value of preserved birds to science and society.
  • Beijing Museum of Natural History

    Website
    Beijing Museum of Natural History grew out of the preparation department of National Central Museum of Natural History founded in 1951. Beijing Museum of Natural History was formally named in 1962.
  • Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology

    Website
    The MVZ bird collection is one of the largest in the United States. It houses over 185,000 catalogued specimens, including 174 holotypes and 2 syntypes. The majority of specimens are study skins, but the collection also contains over 21,000 skeletal specimens and 3,200 fluid-preserved specimens. Other types of preparations include flat specimens (wings, skins) and body skins with skeletons ("schmoos"). Tissues, anatomical parts (e.g., syrinx, stomach contents), and parasites are routinely preserved with specimens. Many species also are associated with audio recordings.
  • Bishop Museum

    Website
    The Hawaii Biological Survey (HBS) is an ongoing natural history inventory of the Hawaiian archipelago. It was created to locate, identify, and evaluate all native and non-native fauna and flora within the state, and to maintain the reference collections of that biota for a wide range of uses.
  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology

    Website
    Our mission is to interpret and conserve the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.
  • Florida Museum of Natural History

    Website
    Recent Bird Skeleton Collection This collection of 24,500 specimens, representing about 3,000 species, is approximately fifth largest in the world in number of specimens and species. In 1992, the Florida Museum received the Recent bird skeleton collection assembled by Prof. Pierce Brodkorb of the University of Florida’s Department of Zoology.
  • Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies

    Website
    Welcome to the home page of the Ornithology Division of the Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies, located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas…
  • Joseph Moore Museum - Earlham College

    Webpage
    The Joseph Moore Museum inspires learners of all ages to connect with and appreciate nature, including the ancient world and its peoples, using a scientific lens.
  • Kimball Natural History Museum - California Academy of Sciences

    Webpage
    Drawing on the Academy's 160-plus years of scientific research, Kimball Natural History Museum explores some of the most significant discoveries and issues of our time.
  • Kōkeʻe Museum

    Website
    Kōkeʻe Museum is open every day of the year from 9 am to 4:30 pm
  • Leiden University

    Website
    In the MA Museums and Collections at Leiden University you will learn about the ethical, political and practical dilemmas that affect museums today.
  • Massey University of New Zealand

    Website
    Attached to Massey University’s veterinary school, Wildbase Hospital is New Zealand's only dedicated wildlife hospital. We are at the forefront of veterinary care of New Zealand’s native birds, half of which are classified as threatened or endangered.
  • McClung Museum

    Website
    To celebrate the centennial of the Tennessee Ornithological Society (TOS), the museum is displaying 56 engravings and lithographs featuring the birds of Tennessee.
  • Museum für Naturkunde - Berlin

    Website
    The Museum of Natural History in Berlin offers you an exciting insight into the natural world. Follow the development of life on our planet, and discover how different forms of life evolve.
  • Museum of Natural History - University of Oxford

    Website
    The zoology collections contain all of the animal specimens held by Museum. These specimens come from a variety of sources, including historic anatomy teaching collections and early expedition collections, and the research collections of eminent zoologists and amateur naturalists. With over 5 million specimens, the zoology collections are the largest in the Museum and fill several storerooms behind the scenes.
  • Museum of Zoology - University of Cambridge

    Website
    The diversity of animal life is on display in the University Museum of Zoology’s brand new galleries.
  • Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle

    Website
    This large museum of natural history combines three museums into one, including a four-story taxonomy wing, a building of skeletons and fossils.
  • National Museum Wales

    Website
    The collection totals approximately 12,000 skins and old relaxed mounts and represent about 75% of the world families. the majority of these are from the Palearctic and Oriental regions with smaller numbers of Nearctic, Neotropical, Afrotropical and Australasian species.
  • National Museum of Nature and Science - Tokyo

    Website
    As the only comprehensive museum for natural sciences in Japan, the National Museum of Nature and Science, since its establishment in 1877, has been engaged in research related to natural history and the history of science and technology.
  • Natural History Museum of Denmark

    Website
    The Zoological Museum is part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen.
  • Peabody Museum of Natural History- Yale University

    Website
    The mission of the Peabody Museum is to serve Yale University by advancing our understanding of earth’s history through geological, biological, and anthropological research, and by communicating the results of this research to the widest possible audience through publication, exhibition, and educational programs.
  • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum - Chicago Academy of Sciences

    Webpage
    Ornithology is the study of birds. Birds are preserved as dry skins. The Academy’s collection includes more than 13,900 specimens representing 580 species. Most of our specimens are species that occur in the Midwest, though many of these species are migrants that are also native to South America and Canada. Some specimens were collected by Academy Director Alfred M. Bailey as part of his work to document avian diversity in his highly regarded book “Birds of Arctic Alaska.” The collection includes many examples of extinct species such as the passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, ivory-billed woodpecker and Eskimo curlew.
  • Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology - University of Cape Town

    Website
    The FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology (affectionately known as the Fitztitute) is located at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where it is housed within the Department of Biological Sciences. Situated at the tip of Africa, the Fitztitute is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the vast untapped biological resources of the continent.
  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science

    Website
    Even though dinosaurs like T. rex and Alamosaurus have faded into extinction, birds have adapted to survive. Come and explore fossil specimens, compare footprints, and weigh the evidence to discover the astonishing links between prehistoric dinosaurs and modern-day birds.
  • Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences - Drexel University

    Website
    Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a leading natural history museum dedicated to advancing research, education, and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science.
  • Royal Museum for Central Africa - Tervuren

    Website
    The Royal Museum for Central Africa is the custodian of 10 million biological specimens that include 150,000 birds.
  • San Diego Natural History Museum

    Website
    The San Diego Natural History Museum, affectionately referred to as The Nat, is a flagship institution in Balboa Park featuring the natural history and unique biodiversity of our binational region. The Nat has four floors of exhibitions, a 3D theater, and a research collection of 9 million specimens.
  • Slater Museum of Natural History

    Website
    The Slater Museum is one of the Pacific Northwest's significant repositories of biological specimens and is a node in a world wide network of similar repositories.
  • Smithsonian - National Museum of Natural History

    Website
    The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum, education, and research complex.
  • The Australian Museum

    Website
    Birds are warm-blooded vertebrates, they all have feathers, lay hard-shelled eggs and have strong, yet lightweight, bones. Around 10,000 species of bird inhabit the world, ranging from tiny hummingbirds up to huge ostriches.
  • The Field Museum

    Website
    The Field Museum fuels a journey of discovery across time to enable solutions for a brighter future rich in nature and culture.
  • The Natural History Museum - London

    Website
    The second largest collection of bird skins on the planet - Discover an extinct dodo, our historical hummingbird cabinet, and a Victorian avian anatomy display in the Birds gallery.
  • The Natural History Museum - Tring

    Website
    Of the Museum's 80 million specimens, only a tiny fraction ever go on display. Uncover colourful stories behind the specimens, meet collectors and curators past and present and read about their contributions to our understanding of the natural world.
  • UGA Museum of Natural History

    Website
    The Georgia Museum of Natural History is an important center of natural history research.
Other Links
  • Library - Biodiversity Heritage Library

    Website
    Inspiring discovery through free access to biodiversity knowledge. The Biodiversity Heritage Library improves research methodology by collaboratively making biodiversity literature openly available to the world as part of a global biodiversity community.
  • Zoological Society of London

    Website
    As well as our extensive conservation field programmes and endangered species breeding work, ZSL is also working hard to improve the way we manage our Zoo sites to reduce negative environmental impacts and enhance ecological and social benefits.

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