Raw's private collection note

Tim Lowrey tlowrey at UNM.EDU
Wed Sep 25 14:17:11 CDT 2002

  I have an excellent recent example of the vulnerability of private
collections. I have a friend who is an avid amateur botanist.  He
amassed an important private herbarium of northern New Mexico plants.
The collection represented many years of effort. He always resisted
putting the specimens in a properly curated herbarium. Rather, he
kept it in his home in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Unfortunately, the
Cerro Grande fire reduced his home and his private herbarium to ashes
along with a significant portion of other homes in Los Alamos.  All
his years of effort went up in flames and these important specimens
are lost to science. His current opinion of private collections now
matches that expressed by Anita.

>Are we moving back in time?  Encouraging private collections
>undermines everything we have tried to accomplish in terms of
>specimen preservation for teaching, research, and future endeavors!
>Museums are the recognized format for specimen preservation with the
>experience, access to object conservation research, an environmental
>controls that cannot be achieved in private collections.  Why would
>anyone encourage private collections!
>Anita F. Cholewa, Ph.D.
>Curator of Temperate Plants
>Bell Museum of Natural History
>University of Minnesota
>1445 Gortner Ave
>St Paul MN (USA)

Tim Lowrey, Ph.D.
Curator, UNM Herbarium
Museum of Southwestern Biology
Department of  Biology
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131
Tel: 505-277-2604
Fax: 505-277-6079

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