Brigham Young University's Monte L. Bean Museum celebrated its 10th anniversary this past week. Many of the museum's collections have doubled since it officially opened in April 1978.
Actually, much of the museum is much older than 10 years, said Stanley L. Welsh, director. As early as 1902, scientists on expeditions gathered plant, bird and wood samples. Some of the plant and bird specimens are still part of the museum's collections.Since its founding, Welsh said, the museum has become a regional center for those across the country who study wildlife, both animals and plants.
The insect and plant collections have doubled in the past decade. The museum now has 1.5 million insects and 325,000 plants.
In February, the museum also doubled its mammal collection, cataloging its 11,000th specimen. Appropriately for BYU sports fans, it was a cougar. Other vertebrate collections total near 100,000, and all the collections are growing continuously.
Welsh said the Bean Museum's mission is to teach people about their environment. It offers classes for university credit as well as classes for the general public, and researchers from universities across the country often request specimens from the museum to aid in their studies.
The museum sponsors annual exhibits such as a woodcarvers' show and taxidermy art show.
Although most items at the museum are not to be touched, there is a children's "touch and feel room." And through the museum's educational outreach program, children in community schools are taught by museum personnel.