AboutThe KU Biodiversity Institute studies past and present life on Earth to educate, engage, and inspire. The institute, including the KU Natural History Museum, accomplishes this mission through the acquisition, curation and study of collections of plants, animals, fossil material and cultural artifacts for undergraduate, graduate and public education, as well as research and public and professional service.
The Biodiversity Institute’s worldwide collection of over 10 million specimens and 1.5 million archaeological artifacts encompass the study of archaeology, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes, mammals, plants, parasites, insects, and fossil plants and animals. More than 100 research scientists and graduate students in the institute study the species, ecosystems, evolution and cultures of the planet. They use this information to model and forecast environmental phenomena that are critical to human well-being, including threatened and endangered species, the potential spread of diseases and pest species, and the effect of climate change on Earth’s biodiversity and habitats.
The KU Natural History Museum is home to four floors of public exhibits including the historic Panorama; live snakes and insects; vertebrate and invertebrate fossils; parasites and microbes; and the flora and fauna of the Great Plains. The museum provides content-rich, hands-on informal science learning for school groups in grades K–12. These programs have reached more than 40,000 participants over the past decade. The museum also offers a wide range of public programs and events.