Raw's private collection note

Ron at Ron at
Wed Sep 25 17:07:59 CDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tim Lowrey" <tlowrey at UNM.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2002 4:17 PM
Subject: Re: Raw's private collection note

>   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.

Yes, he should have donated it to a museum in California - like those
destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake and fire.  Much better to crash
an burn "officially" than "unofficially".  Did he have a collection
evacuation plan - or did the fire come too quickly.   I wonder what the
next big hurricane is going to do when it hits the FSCA collection in
Gainesville, Florida.  Or what plans the British Museum has for when the
terrorists decide to fly their planes into it rather than Big Ben.

Perhaps he should have given it to St. Louis University whose butterfly
collection I visited in the 1960's  -- mostly lovely draws for dermestid
frass (dermestids have the common name "museum pests" for a reason).  Same
for the Charleston Museum in early 1970's (the nation's oldest museum - and
the specimens sure reflected it).  Then there are those dropped drawers.
Come on, if we have been at this long enough we've seen (heard) it.   Yah,
I remember the first time I heard this.  Visiting a major museum here in
the states and crash.  Another visiting specialist had just dropped a
drawer - so much for those types. Neotypes anyone?   The head of the
facility came storming around the corner ready to ban some rookie for life,
until he saw who dropped it -- the leading taxonomist in that field one
Harry Clench.  Which is the lesser of two evils: a dropped drawer in a
private collection with no types or a dropped draw of all types in an
institution.   Arguments can me made and examples cited pro and con on
either side.

Ron Gatrelle

More information about the Taxacom mailing list