Value/Cost of Collections

Stuart G. Poss sgposs at WHALE.ST.USM.EDU
Fri Mar 27 09:50:33 CST 1998

Barry M. OConnor wrote:
> The term Value has different meanings to different people.  For museum
> collections, the value of a set of specimens usually translates to the
> amount of tax deduction a donor can receive if they give the collection to
> a museum.
> ...
>         The notion of replacement cost doesn't enter at all into these
> estimates of value.  On the other hand, if trying to justify one's
> existence as a museum  to higher administrative authorities or politicians,
> it is useful to point out what would be lost (in terms of effort and money)
> if the collections were abandoned.

Given that tax reform is evidently a hot topic in some political
circles, might this not be an opportunity to invigorate interest in
systematics and support for collections by changing the tax code to
provide a tax break based on some reasonable percentage of replacement
costs?  Clearly this would benefit some collections (butterflies,
beetles, molluscs) more than others, but it might be worth considering.

I can see areas where some controls would be required, eg. collections
of rare or endangered species, illegally taken or imported specimens,
etc.  However, if carefully drafted, might such a tax code change
benefit natural history collections?  Could changes be written to
make it more attractive for collectors to invest in natural history
collections than in commercial collecting that might result in the loss
of worthwhile specimens/data to science?

Comments?  I would be interested to learn if anyone has estimated the
replacement cost of their collection in dollar terms, assuming that most
or all materials could in fact be recollected (obviously no longer
possible for many populations that once occurred in now developed areas)

Stuart G. Poss                       E-mail: sgposs at
Senior Research Scientist & Curator  Tel: (228)872-4238
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory       FAX: (228)872-4204
P.O. Box 7000                        703 East Beach Blvd.
Ocean Springs, MS  39566-7000

More information about the Taxacom mailing list