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About The Museum

Mission and Goals

The primary mission of The Georgia Museum of Natural History is to collect and preserve evidence of the cultural and natural heritage of Georgia and beyond; to encourage scholarship and service relating to the collections; to foster stewardship of the heritage of the people of Georgia; and to instruct people in their cultural and natural heritage. The goals are:

  1. To serve the State of Georgia and The University of Georgia as a natural history museum engaged in education, outreach, research, and service.
  2. To combine collections with education, research, and service in order to serve a diverse public.
  3. To foster the curation and long-term conservation of Georgia's natural history legacy, including objects and related data.
  4. To stimulate public interest, support, and understanding of natural history through exhibits, conferences, electronic media, in-school visits, educational programming, and other outlets which reach schools and the general public.
  5. To serve the student body by promoting student achievement and providing appropriate academic support in natural history.
  6. To promote collection-based research enhancing knowledge of the cultural and natural heritage of Georgia, the southeastern region, and beyond with a commitment to academic achievements having national and international significance.
  7. To promote public service and technical assistance addressing the strategic needs of the State of Georgia in the field of natural history.

GMNH exhibitsThe Georgia Museum of Natural History links collections, research, public service, and education through programs designed for a diverse audience. Natural history museums are repositories for collections of archaeological, biological, geological, and paleontological materials. For the most part, such collections consist of specimens or artifacts gathered so that they may be studied by students and professionals or displayed for public edification. At The University of Georgia, faculty, staff, and students have built significant collections in natural history through their research. Taken together, they are the most comprehensive in Georgia. These collections play an important role in the teaching mission of the University as well as in public service and outreach. 

The Georgia Museum of Natural History is a consortium consisting of 14 important natural history collections. These collections are supported by six departments at the University of Georgia: Anthropology, Botany, Entomology, Geography, Geology, and Plant Pathology. Each collection is the largest of its kind in Georgia. The collections are primarily administered and supported by their academic departments and colleges. Public service, outreach, and some administrative programs fall under the Office of Director of the Museum and five collections are supported by the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

The Museum has four primary roles:

Museum History

For many decades, the University of Georgia has maintained a number of natural history collections under the aegis of various academic departments. In 1978, the University formerly recognized these collections as the Museum of Natural History, and in 1999, the Georgia General Assembly recognized it as the official state museum of natural history. The Georgia Museum of Natural History is the repository for the preservation and study of the tangible evidence of history, culture and natural heritage of the state of Georgia and its people. 

The history of the museum stretches far beyond the late 20th century, however. In fact, the museum’s first collections date back to the early 1800s. Since the founding of UGA in 1785, both professors and students collected natural history specimens to aid in understanding the natural world around them. UGA’s first professor, Josiah Meigs, began a small collections of specimens between 1801-1810. Over time, the collections continued to grow as interest increased, moving across campus multiple times. The collections were also closely associated with the University’s library and botanical garden. Click here or on the image below to learn more about the development of the museum in the 1800s.

Recent research by GMNH Intern Megan McPherson has contributed to our knowledge of the early history of the museum.
Recent research by GMNH Intern Megan McPherson has contributed to our knowledge of the early history of the museum.

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