Collections

The Biodiversity Institute collections include 9 million specimens of plants, animals and fossils collected worldwide and 1.2 million archaeological artifacts.

For more than 140 years, KU scientists and students have collected and studied life on Earth. Our specimens of plants and animals — prehistoric to living species, microscopic to colossal — have been gathered from every continent and ocean. Our archaeological artifacts document the past cultures of the Great Plains. Biodiversity Institute collections include DNA samples, sound recordings, images, tissues, skeletons and field notes.  With powerful tools of information technology, we harness the data associated with our collections to forecast critical environmental events, such as the spread of diseases, invasive species and agricultural pests, and the effects of climate change.

Our collections are searchable through this portal.

Invertebrate Zoology photo

Libraries of Life photo

Libraries of Life

The word "collection" conjures images of bric-a-brac, postage stamps and antique coins. But when the objects are once-living things — preserved bodies of mammals, fish, birds, insects, plants and fossils — and they number almost 9 million, "collection" takes on a different meaning.
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Entomology photo

Featured collection: Entomology

The entomology collection includes almost 5 million specimens of insects from all over the world. Strengths include bees, beetles and termites.
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Collection Tour photo

Collection Tours

The KU Natural History Museum offers periodic behind-the-scenes tours, led by research scientists. Upcoming tours are listed on the museum events calendar.
EVENTS CALENDAR