Julie Zuckman: Why is there no natural history museum at UMass?

Bones of a juvenile sperm whale for a display in the Morrill Science Center at UMass.

Bones of a juvenile sperm whale for a display in the Morrill Science Center at UMass. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Published: 03-07-2024 2:43 PM

Modified: 03-07-2024 3:56 PM


 Regarding the story “Without natural history space, collections in limbo” [Gazette, March 2], there was at least one previous somewhat recent effort to start a proper natural history museum at UMass. About 25 years ago then-UMass biology professor Willy Bemis, an ichthyologist, tried to do so.

Bemis, a world-famous scientist now at Cornell University, didn’t find any enthusiasm (or funding) for the project, to his great disappointment. I’ve wondered whether this is because Amherst College already has a well-established and well-endowed natural history museum, or because natural history is still seen as a 19th-century “cabinet of curiosities,” suitable for children, by administrators and those from other disciplines.

Julie Zuckman

Florence

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