Museum studies experts and museum workers all over the world agree that research and education are the missions of museums. Thus, collection is a core function of all museums. In terms of this museum, collection and research are indispensable to its work. Specimens provide evidence to back up academic research and form the basis for discussion. Looking at it from another side, research results can be presented in the form of exhibitions using specimens and related photographs and information. Through educational activities and interpretation of exhibitions, knowledge is passed on to the society.
To satisfy the above missions and to promote understanding of the natural world and evolutionary history among the general public, five departments carry out collection and research work in the museum, specifically in the fields of zoology, botany, geology, anthropology and collection management. These departments work together with the exhibits, science education and administrative departments, in a professional division of labor with integration of functions.
The museum's collection is made up of specimens and objects in the fields of zoology, botany, geology and anthropology. The collection also includes photographs, slides, film and sound recordings, drawings, case information and field notes, etc. From the latter half of 2003, the scope of the collection has been expanded to include live plant specimens, fungi, spores and pollen, bark and seeds, etc.
Each collection is looked after by a collection manager. The collection manager is responsible for specimen handling, cataloging, storage and preservation, etc. The Registrar's Office oversees the logging of specimens into and out of the museum, inventory, environmental monitoring of collection storage areas, maintenance and management and development of added-value applications of collected specimens and objects. Currently, the museum is establishing a professional management system including defining the key areas of collection management work and setting up cultural object collection earthquake and disaster preparedness plans and post-disaster plans. In addition, the museum is constructing an information system for collection management and collection work. Through the use of knowledge management technology, digitized information about the collection can be entered into a multimedia database and portal site, to be accessed by the public.
The collection space measures nearly 15,000 square meters including the preparing room, specimen handling areas and collection storage rooms.
As of December 2020, the number of specimens collected by the Museum has reached 1,552,621, and is increasing.[Find out more]
In the museum the curator's research covers the fields of entomology, ornithology, herpetology, invertebrate zoology, vascular plants, nonvascular plants, fungi, paleontology, petrology, mineralogy, archeology, ethnology and collection management, etc.
Every year, the research of the museum’s curators is published in domestic and foreign scientific journals, Collection and Research, Museology Quarterly or special publications. Through the museum’s professional development committee and special exhibition task force, the results of curators’ research are transformed into special exhibitions and science education activities, to pass on their knowledge to the society.
The museum’s research space totals 15,000 square meters, which includes research rooms, laboratories (such as the molecular systematics, marine biology, biochemistry, geochemistry, morphological botany and micropaleontology laboratories, as well as a sedimentology workroom), seed bank and precision equipment centers (including electrophoresis room, SEM room, TEM room, X-ray room and audiovisual analysis center)