This week, the final room of the Ichthyology collection is being packed and loaded up to move into the department’s new collection rooms at the new California Academy of Sciences. For transport, the small jars are packed closely together in re-usable orange crates, while larger jars (below, right) are stabilized with packing peanuts that are also re-usable.
More than 200,000 jars of unicornfishes, lanternbellies, fangtooths, needlefishes, and numerous other species sit on the earthquake-proof shelves – totaling 2 million specimens. The alcohol-filled jars must all be carefully secured because the specimens are a valuable resource to researchers from around the world.
The Ornithology and Mammalogy department was the very first group to move into the Academy’s new home in Golden Gate Park. Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, the department was able to purchase a new set of state-of-the-art cabinets for specimen storage.
Rather than tossing the old cabinets in a landfill, collections manager Moe Flannery quickly found new homes for them. She donated most of them to other organizations in need of storage solutions, reducing waste and providing inspiration to others wondering, “what in the world should I do with this (insert your obscure/unwieldy object of choice)?”
The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology (left) was thrilled to receive the Academy’s donation of 180 cabinets (a lifetime supply!). They have since painted the metallic cabinets white to match their others.
The Academy’s largest research department, Entomology, has been playing a complex game of leapfrog with their research specimens and cabinets. They have 14.5 million insects and arachnids in the collection – housed primarily in 450 9-foot-tall white cabinets (below, left). The catch is that all those cabinets had to be emptied before going into moving trucks, which posed quite a logistical challenge.
32,000 wooden drawers full of pinned specimens (above, center) take up a lot of room – you can’t just set them all aside while you move all the cabinets. So, instead they’ve been doing it in waves: move some cabinets, move some insects, cabinets, insects, cabinets, insects…
Over the course of about 4 weeks, the wooden drawers were transferred from their white cabinets to metallic transport carts (above, right), and trucked over to Golden Gate Park in batches. And every other day, another 48 white cabinets were moved over. That way, when each batch of metallic transport carts wheeled into the new building, there were empty cabinets waiting to be filled up.
As of today, the bulk of the pinned specimens are safe and sound in their new home, while the butterflies, moths, and a sampling of beetles are patiently awaiting their turn to move.