Natural History Museums

Natural History Museums

The study of natural history has evolved immensely over the centuries. Scientists developed and improved methods for observing and better understanding the world’s plants and animals and the habitats they live in. Natural history museums have played a vital role in this evolution, providing key facilities for the development of new scientific disciplines and the emergence of specialist scientific professions. Nineteenth century botanists and zoologists were particularly active in the race to acquire previously undiscovered specimens and taxonomically classifying their findings in prestigious repositories such as the natural history museums in London (founded 1881), Berlin (founded 1889) or New York (founded 1877).

The study of natural history has evolved immensely over the centuries. Scientists developed and improved methods for observing and better understanding the world’s plants and animals and the habitats they live in. Natural history museums have played a vital role in this evolution, providing key facilities for the development of new scientific disciplines and the emergence of specialist scientific professions. Nineteenth century botanists and zoologists were particularly active in the race to acquire previously undiscovered specimens and taxonomically classifying their findings in prestigious repositories such as the natural history museums in London (founded 1881), Berlin (founded 1889) or New York (founded 1877).

These collections served as important research resources and teaching tools for new generations of eager young students with prominent names such as Charles Darwin, Alexander von Humboldt or Ernst Haeckel, just to name a few. Today’s natural history museums hold countless billions of specimens gathered from across the globe – with plant and animal species of every conceivable shape, color and age, from fossils to present day preparations. These specimens allow the dedicated scientist as well as the ordinary man, woman or child to better understand our world in all its dizzying complexity and splendor.

These collections served as important research resources and teaching tools for new generations of eager young students with prominent names such as Charles Darwin, Alexander von Humboldt or Ernst Haeckel, just to name a few. Today’s natural history museums hold countless billions of specimens gathered from across the globe – with plant and animal species of every conceivable shape, color and age, from fossils to present day preparations. These specimens allow the dedicated scientist as well as the ordinary man, woman or child to better understand our world in all its dizzying complexity and splendor.

NHM London - Butterfly Collection
NHM London - Butterfly Collection
Blue whale sceleton at NHM London
Blue whale sceleton at NHM London
Bear jaw (120 mm X 200 mm) imaged with ZEISS Xradia
Bear jaw (120 mm X 200 mm) imaged with ZEISS Xradia
Fossil radiolarian, acquired with annular darkfield
Fossil radiolarian, acquired with annular darkfield

Researching Nature with Microscopy

Natural science – in research fields such as paleontology, geology, zoology, herpetology, ichthyology, mammalogy, ornithology, entomology, climatology, anthropology and many others – has flourished at museums over the years. Since 1846, microscopes from ZEISS have substantially advanced contributions to these fields. Sensitive, non-destructive microscopy techniques enable the study, analysis, long-term preservation and modern-day digitization of precious natural artefacts.

From the reconstruction of dinosaur skeletons to the DNA sequencing of samples from Darwin’s collections of natural history specimens, from the analysis of foraminifera to the close study of fossils in amber – detailed observation helps museum professionals make the right decisions when it comes to the care and curation of collections. 

Natural science – in research fields such as paleontology, geology, zoology, herpetology, ichthyology, mammalogy, ornithology, entomology, climatology, anthropology and many others – has flourished at museums over the years. Since 1846, microscopes from ZEISS have substantially advanced contributions to these fields. Sensitive, non-destructive microscopy techniques enable the study, analysis, long-term preservation and modern-day digitization of precious natural artefacts.

From the reconstruction of dinosaur skeletons to the DNA sequencing of samples from Darwin’s collections of natural history specimens, from the analysis of foraminifera to the close study of fossils in amber – detailed observation helps museum professionals make the right decisions when it comes to the care and curation of collections. Highly ergonomic and easy-to-use stereo and zoom microscopes with excellent optics and integrated digital documentation options are excellent choices for these routine tasks.

Modern natural history museums incorporate interdepartmental microscopy and imaging facilities that contain state-of-the-art instruments and image analysis software. The facility staff is trained to provide expert assistance in the instrumentation found in the lab - from advanced light microscopes and confocal laser scanning instruments to automated slide scanners for digital archiving, scanning electron microscopes for nano-resolution investigations, and even micro-CT X-ray microscopes for non-destructive 3D imaging of internal features of priceless museum specimens.

Highly ergonomic and easy-to-use stereo and zoom microscopes with excellent optics and integrated digital documentation options are excellent choices for these routine tasks.

Modern natural history museums incorporate interdepartmental microscopy and imaging facilities that contain state-of-the-art instruments and image analysis software. The facility staff is trained to provide expert assistance in the instrumentation found in the lab - from advanced light microscopes and confocal laser scanning instruments to automated slide scanners for digital archiving, scanning electron microscopes for nano-resolution investigations, and even micro-CT X-ray microscopes for non-destructive 3D imaging of internal features of priceless museum specimens.

A Place Where Learning Happens. Naturally.

Today’s natural history museums are much more than research institutions. Fun, informative and engaging public outreach programs help ensure that museums have something to offer to every member of society, regardless of age, cultural or social background. Exhibitions, events, engagement activities and educational programs are designed to spark curiosity and develop passion for the miracles of nature. Microscopes are a particularly great way to let people experience nature hands-on. For the first time they see microscopic organisms that live in every pond, wonder at the details of a fly’s head, or investigate the delicate details of tiny fossils.

Today’s natural history museums are much more than research institutions. Fun, informative and engaging public outreach programs help ensure that museums have something to offer to every member of society, regardless of age, cultural or social background. Exhibitions, events, engagement activities and educational programs are designed to spark curiosity and develop passion for the miracles of nature. Microscopes are a particularly great way to let people experience nature hands-on. For the first time they see microscopic organisms that live in every pond, wonder at the details of a fly’s head, or investigate the delicate details of tiny fossils.

With modern microscopy demonstration setups everybody can become a researcher: Robust, ergonomic and easy-to-use stereo and light microscopes with digital camera options directly connect with displays and iPads, offering the highest degree of interactivity and engagement while at the same time being cost-efficient and low-maintenance solutions that impress visitors of all age groups. The central mission of natural history museums worldwide is to encourage a higher appreciation and a more sustainable attitude towards the environment we all live in. And ZEISS supports this mission since 1846.

With modern microscopy demonstration setups everybody can become a researcher: Robust, ergonomic and easy-to-use stereo and light microscopes with digital camera options directly connect with displays and iPads, offering the highest degree of interactivity and engagement while at the same time being cost-efficient and low-maintenance solutions that impress visitors of all age groups. The central mission of natural history museums worldwide is to encourage a higher appreciation and a more sustainable attitude towards the environment we all live in. And ZEISS supports this mission since 1846.

Further Information

Blog Article

Aufbau einer stereomikroskopischen Bilddatenbank

für Käfer (Coleoptera)

pages: 7
file size: 2298 kB

White Paper: ZEISS Axio Imager

Detailed imaging of exceptionally preserved microfossils to track events in early animal evolution

pages: 4
file size: 1558 kB

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Recommended Microscope Systems for Natural History

ZEISS Axio Zoom.V16

Axio Zoom.V16 offers flexibility and superb performance, assisting the preparation of small and fragile specimens in large fields with pristine three dimensional visibility. Delicate work with the scalpel or needle is made easier with stereo and zoom microscopes, and Axio Zoom.V16 enables conservators to work directly under the microscope while observing their work through the eyepiece.

ZEISS Axio Zoom.V16

 

ZEISS EVO

EVO is a scanning electron microscope (SEM) that provides high resolution images of surfaces—from tiny fragments to whole organisms. Consider the topography of a butterfly wing or a mineral crystal: working in higher or lower vacuum modes, the composition and morphology of your specimen will become clear and distinct.

ZEISS EVO

ZEISS Xradia Versa

Xradia Versa employs x-rays for non-invasive, high-resolution imaging of specimens. Use it to create astounding 3D models of internal and external features. Fossils and botanical and animal specimens of every description can now be imaged in cross-section, significantly benefiting the process of classification and digital documentation.

ZEISS Xradia Versa