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On the Importance of Scientific Collections

A Series of Special Reports by the NSC Alliance


Scientific collections:

  • are libraries of Earth’s history;
  • support scientific research, human health, public education, and the conservation of biodiversity;
  • are at risk in the current worsening economic conditions

August 2013

This new series of special reports by the Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) takes an in depth look at scientists and institutions who are using scientific collections.

Biological Specimens Go Online: The New Digital Frontier of Collections
Museum Specimens in the Service of Science: USGS and Smithsonian Partner to Advance Science
Bees are Not Optional: To Know How Bees Fare, You Must Know Who They Are
Little Frog Faces Big Challenges: Herpetology Collection is Repository for Data on Rare Frog

Fact Sheets on Scientific Collections

Scientific collections are an important part of our nation’s scientific enterprise, supporting scientific research, human health, public education, and the conservation of biodiversity. It is essential that scientific collections receive sustained and growing funding in order to preserve and protect the valuable scientific resources they contain.

Please use the fact sheets below whenever you are educating others about the value of scientific collections.









Collective Knowledge: The Value of Natural Science Collections

Much of what we are beginning to understand about our world, we owe to the collection, preservation, and ongoing study of natural specimens. Properly preserved collections of plants, animals, rocks, soil, ice, insects, birds, and fish are libraries of Earth’s history, and vital to our ability to learn about our place in its future. This booklet published by NSC Alliance lays out the value of natural history collections to society.


Collective Knowledge

2008 NSC Alliance Economic Impacts Survey

In 2008, the NSC Alliance conducted an online survey to assess how scientific collections were responding to worsening economic conditions. The complete findings of this survey have now been published in the online publication CLS Journal of Museum Studies. The publication includes the survey results and some possible actions for scientific collections and policymakers.

Click here to read the full report.

NSC Alliance Washington Report

Read past issues of the NSC Alliance newsletter

The Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) is a nonprofit association the supports science collections, their human resources, the institutions that house them, and their research activities for the benefit of science and society.


Understanding Science