Keller Science Action Center

Keller Science Action Center

Mundo Perdido Lake, Tikal, Guatemala

Putting the Museum to Work for Conservation

What began as a small experiment during the Museum’s centennial celebration in 1995 has blossomed into a team of scientist-explorers who are experts in translating museum knowledge into lasting results for conservation and cultural understanding, both in the midst of a great urban center and in the wildest, most remote places on Earth.

The experiment—to bring the Museum’s tradition of rigorous science to bear on practical challenges—worked beyond all expectations. In 12 years of work in South America, the efforts of a small core led to the protection of 23 million acres of wilderness in the Amazon headwaters. The return on investment has been enormous: to date, the team’s track record is five acres protected per $1 invested in rapid inventories.

In the Chicago region, the Museum leads pioneering collaborations to bring people and nature together, in all their diversity, in the midst of a huge metropolis. Two of these collaborations—Chicago Wilderness and the Chicago Cultural Alliance—have captured the imagination of cities across the country and beyond.


Keller Science Action Center Collections

Neotropical Herbarium Specimens

This site will be useful for identifying families, genera or plant species in regions for which comprehensive field guides are not available, or where manuals depend on the use of technical floral or fruit characters absent in the voucher specimens. It will even be useful to paleobotanists and others with interest in comparative morphology of tropical plants.

Rapid Field Guides

Whether taken to the field or used only on a computer screen, our Field Guides fill a gap in the published material available to identify live species growing in tropical lands. Most of these guides are designed for use in the field and are free to download. They can be printed out from high-quality PDF files to make two-sided laminated reference sheets.