Journey into The Field Museum’s vast collections with Specimens: Unlocking the Secrets of Life. From rare deep sea-dwelling creatures to fossil brains to meteorites, there are over 30 million specimens and artifacts tucked away on shelves, in bins and cabinets, glass jars, and acres of wooden drawers. They’re significant not only because of their number, but also because of the stories they tell.
Among them is a tiny minnow that resides in a glass jar. To the naked eye, it’s insignificant, a brownish-grey smudge swimming in alcohol. But we know better: this minnow is precious. It’s long extinct, and this particular fish is the last remaining scientific record of its kind.
Scientists from around the world are using our collections every day to make discoveries, solve mysteries, and explore the wonder of the natural world. Together, these specimens weave a tapestry of life in our universe: what has been, what is, and what is still unknown. Join us on a quest to uncover the secrets these objects hold and to return to moments in time otherwise lost forever.
This exhibition was organized by The Field Museum.
The Specimens Educator Toolkit encourages students to consider the purpose of collecting, discover what can be learned through The Field Museum's vast collection, and explore how Field Museum scientists use the collections to better understand our world. Download lessons for grades 3–12.