A Brief and Incomplete History of Museums on UWSP Campus 1894-2018

The earliest mention of a museum at UWSP goes back to the founding of the campus and the construction of the Normal School Old Main Building in 1894. By 1898, mounted bird and study skin collections, formerly housed in the Assembly Room, were relocated to the third floor "Biology Laboratory" and were combined with biologic and other natural history specimens. By 1903, a formal museum existed in Old Main. This museum was divided into three main disciplines, "Biological, Geological, and Historical." The majority of the biological specimens were obtained from the Smithsonian Institution and Woods Hole, Massachusetts. 

The current version of UW-Stevens Point Museum of Natural History was founded in 1968 to exhibit portions of the research and teaching collections held by UW-Stevens Point, and to acquire specimens related to research in Biology, Geology, and Anthropology.

The initial museum exhibit space and collections were located in the UWSP Science Building and was overseen by Bob Searles. Later that same year, members of the Biology Department formalized the Museum of Natural History under the auspices of a steering committee from various departments. The Steering Committee consisted of Charles Long (Mammalogy), Robert Freckmann (Botany), George Becker (Ichthyology), Phil Bjork (Paleontology), Vince Heig (Ornithology), Garry Knopf (Herpetology), John Moore (Anthropology), and Marshall Parry (Geology).
The Museum currently holds collections associated with ten areas of natural history:
  1. Anthropology (Ethnological, Material Culture collections).
  2. Botany (Herbarium).
  3. Entomology (Insect and Arachnid collections).
  4. Geology (Mineral, and Rock collections).
  5. Herpetology (Amphibians and Reptiles).
  6. Ichthyology (Fish and Tissue collection).
  7. Mammalogy (Osteological, Full-mount and Study Skin collections).
  8. Ornithology (Full-mount, Study Skin, Egg and Nest collections).
  9. Parasitology (Slide collection).
  10. Paleontology (Plant, Vertebrate and Invertebrate fossils).
The Museum is now divided into Curator supervised areas based on scientific discipline. Each Curator administers a specific collection. Acquisition, cataloguing, preservation, and conservation are the responsibility of the individual Curators.
The principal foci of the UWSP Museum's collecting efforts are the Upper Great Lakes and adjacent Great Plains. In order to study relationships properly, and offer greater research opportunities, some collections have global coverage. Extensive teaching collections are also maintained by the Museum and individual disciplines with total curated specimens now exceeding 420,000.
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