The lifeblood of the Museum, a resource for science
The Field Museum houses one of the world’s most important natural history collections, ranking among the top five in the world. For our visitors, the 1% of this material that is on exhibit offers compelling, up-close views of real specimens and real science. For the international scientific community our vaults hold unparalleled primary data on the biological, social, and earth sciences. The Museum houses some of the world’s best material of its kind—South American plants, Antarctic dinosaurs, ethnographic objects from North America and the Pacific, meteorites, and African mammals, to name just a few. These collections form the foundation for countless ongoing scientific discoveries and conservation programs by Field Museum scientists and colleagues worldwide, and they will continue to yield insights on topics we cannot even envision today.
A knowledge database of the world
The impact of Field Museum collections is multifaceted. From mummies to mastodons to meteorites, our collections form the core of our exhibits. Our collections are also a reference library for students, teachers, naturalists, and citizen-scientists, informing textbooks, encyclopedias, and field guides. Scientists have used our collections to trace the trajectory of infectious diseases, estimate when primates diverged from other mammals on the tree of life, decipher how the Maya produced their famous blue pigment, and reveal why the Bald Eagle almost became extinct. From 3rd graders to Ph.D. researchers, our collections fuel curiosity and wonder about our planet and life on it.
Exploring our vaults
We share our world-class collections resources and the knowledge they contain with thousands of scientists annually through on-site visits, loans, and the web. Every year Field Museum scientists and external colleagues make new discoveries right here in our collections—new species, new information on ancient societies, deeper insights into our solar system, and much more. We are committed to making the information in our collections more accessible and to encouraging more scientists to mount new expeditions into our vaults. Opening up our collections will expand dramatically the discoveries to be made within them, and will increase their knowledge value not only for scientists, but for educators, students, conservationists, and the public.
Collaborations with cultural heritage groups
The Field is a pioneer in co-curation, an emerging approach to collections stewardship that engages communities in the curation and longterm care of heritage objects. The Museum’s co-curation efforts were inspired by our 40-year partnership with the people of Tokomaru Bay in New Zealand. Chicago’s Filipino-American community collaborates with the Museum in the cocuration of our Philippine collection, assisting in its care and documentation, and enhancing collections information with traditional stories and knowledge. The Museum also works closely with North American Native communities in repatriating human remains and funerary objects. Our team assists indigenous groups with access to collections data, coordinates historical and legal analyses, and develops collaborations with tribal representatives and heritage communities.