Entomologists Offer Help to Museum of Natural History

Lanham, MD; January 7, 2013 –The Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, one of the premier research and education museums in the world, recently announced a plan to reduce the museum’s total budget by through significant reductions in research and curation support. According to Dr. Rob Wiedenmann, President of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), the cuts targeting research and curation will have profoundly negative impacts on the museum’s collection of 25 million specimens, and on the valuable research that is done by the scientists who study them.

“Priceless and irreplaceable specimens lose their value unless the specimens are cared for and properly catalogued by a professional curatorial staff, and unless those collections are made available for use by the world's scientific community,” Dr. Wiedenmann wrote in a letter to the museum’s president and board of directors.

“Many of the Field's 25 million specimens are truly irreplaceable,” he continued, “and information stored in those specimens awaits researchers to decode their secrets in order to help address scientific, technological, and conservation issues faced worldwide.”

While acknowledging that the museum faces financial hardships and that action must be taken to ensure its survival, Dr. Wiedenmann offered to provide help from members of ESA, which once faced a similar situation.

“The Entomological Society of America faced such a financial crisis a dozen years ago, which threatened our existence as a professional society,” he wrote. “Through financial and societal restructuring, challenging time-held views and making difficult decisions, we emerged financially robust and vital. I am willing to identify leaders in our field who have a deep knowledge of museums, collections and specimen-based research, individuals who could serve an advisory role to the board and senior staff as you explore how best to restructure to maintain the Field Museum's world-renowned status.”

Dr. Wiedenmann closed by encouraging the museum to remember its goals and core principles as it faces financial hardship.

“From our own experience, I offer you hope – that it is possible to make tough decisions while not undermining the museum's strengths and uniqueness,” he wrote. “I hope you will consider my offer to provide volunteer scientific expertise to aid the restructuring decisions.”

The Entomological Society of America is the largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines in the world. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 6,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are students, researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, consultants, and hobbyists. For more information, please visit http://www.entsoc.org.