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Natural History

natural history collections at the Fairbanks Museum

The Fairbanks Museum balances the preservation of its rich Victorian legacy -- seen in our natural history collections and the artifacts collected by its founder -- while remaining strongly relevant to current issues pertaining to biodiversity and the natural world. The profusion of  life-like bird trees and rich dioramas on display evoke the excitement of expeditions and of discovery. The original descriptive names of many specimens are still intact, providing an additional historical context to the taxonomic richness of the collection.

In addition to being visually exciting, our natural history collection is an important and irreplaceable record of biodiversity in various points in time. Some of the species represented in the collection are endemic and therefore only found in particular regions and nowhere else. Many are now threatened or endangered due to habitat loss or destruction. Some, like the Passenger Pigeon, are extinct. Significant collections include Philippine birds acquired from the reknown collector J.B Steere, which he collected during an expedition in 1874. Our collections include mounted specimens, fluid-preserved specimens, skin and osteological specimens as well as fossils. Our invertebrate collections include insects, mollusks, corals, and sponges.

Our holdings also represent the diversity of Vermont's flora and fauna, including boreal species whose southernmost limits are in Vermont.  The herbarium contains more than 1,500 Vermont specimens collected in the 1890s by Dr. Ferdinand Blanchard of Peacham, as well as a comprehensive sample of New England herbaceous flora.