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State sites showcase natural science collections in Champaign and Springfield on Tuesday     Send a link to a friend

[AUG. 21, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- On Tuesday, Aug. 24, from 1 to 5 p.m., the Illinois State Museum in Springfield and Illinois Natural History Survey in Champaign, divisions of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, will showcase their natural history collections to the public as a part of a national event. The program, called “Dinosaurs to DNA,” is spearheaded by the Natural Science Collections Alliance, the umbrella professional organization representing institutions housing research collections. More than 70 museums, universities and research agencies are uniting to explain their importance and the role of their collections in answering many of today's societal questions. On Aug. 24, these institutions are simultaneously showcasing and opening the doors to their research collections, which collectively comprise more than 200 million objects.

At the Illinois State Museum, 502 South Spring St. in Springfield, museum scientists will present research collections in the museum's new natural history hall. The new exhibition, “Changes,” opened in June and is a direct demonstration of the role that scientific collections play in documenting environmental change in Illinois. Scientists will bring additional natural history collections -- including plant and animal fossils, skeletons, and modern plant and animal specimens -- and will be on hand to discuss the collections and the exhibits. The museum has more than 10 million specimens that document Illinois environments during what scientists estimate to be the last 500 million years. More information on the museum's collections can be found at

At the Illinois Natural History Survey in Champaign, the public is invited to participate in informal tours of collections ranges. Participants will assemble at the headquarters, 607 E. Peabody Drive in Champaign. The Natural History Survey holds more than 8.5 million specimens documenting the plants and animals of Illinois over the last 150 years. More information on these collections can be found at

Scientific collections held in museums and other institutions across the country are important to scientific research relevant to many environmental issues. These collections (1) reveal what scientists estimate to be a 5-billion-year history of changes in the Earth's geology, climate and life forms; (2) help us to map the locations and health of the planet's biodiversity and natural resources; (3) possess key information that we use to protect our natural resources; (4) provide materials for new drug therapies and insight into diseases; and (5) inspire people of all ages and interests through museum exhibitions, natural history guides and educational programs.


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A future goal of the Natural Science Collections Alliance is to electronically network collections, thereby providing scientists and society instant access to one of the best resources for understanding our ever-changing world.

For more information about the public event at the Illinois State Museum, please contact Dr. Bonnie Styles at (217) 782-7475. For more information about the public event at the Illinois Natural History Survey, please contact Dr. Geoffrey Levin at (217) 244-7481. For more information about the national event, please contact the Natural Science Collections Alliance at (202) 835-9050.


  • Dr. Bonnie Styles
    Associate Museum Director -- Science and Education
    Illinois State Museum
    502 South Spring St.
    Springfield, IL 62706-5000
    (217) 782-7475

  • Dr. Geoffrey Levin
    Director, Center for Biodiversity
    Illinois Natural History Survey
    607 East Peabody Drive
    Champaign, IL 61820-6970
    (217) 244-7481

  • Natural Science Collection Alliance
    National Museum of Natural History
    Smithsonian Institution
    10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
    P.O. Box 44095
    Washington, DC 20026-4095
    (202) 835-9050

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources
news release]

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