Above the galleries are millions of scientific specimens.

This museum contains some of the largest shell and bird collections in the country.

The specimens come from all over the world — and from the local region. As a whole, the scientific collection serves as a record of biodiversity on Earth. Our staff build, protect, and preserve our collections with the help of volunteers. Our scientists conduct a variety of research projects, and scientists from around the world also use our collections for their research. 

Explore the collections

Birds

113,000 bird specimens, including 36,000 egg clutches

Mollusks

More than two million mollusks, categorized into 250,000 lots.

Meet our scientists

Elizabeth Shea, Ph.D.

Director of Collections/ Curator of Mollusks

Alex Kittle

Senior Collections Manager, Mollusks

Matthew Halley, Ph.D.

Assistant Curator of Birds

Ashley Kempken

Collections Manager, Birds

COLLECTIONS IN ACTION

  • Conserving the Collections
    Our extensive scientific collections are used by scientists and researchers all around the world. Use of these collections needs to be balanced with conservation efforts to ensure they exist for future generations.
  • Vouchering for Science
    Our scientific collections provide a baseline of biodiversity for research projects. Vouchering physical specimens into permanent and managed collections like those at the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science ensures a proper documentation of biodiversity and consistency of research.
  • Thousands of Mollusks added to the museum’s scientific collections in 2023
    Mollusk collections often stem from exploration, whether on a global or local scale. Personal collections frequently find their way to museums, especially when accompanied by available data. Our holdings have recently expanded with two significant acquisitions.
  • New bird species discovered through scientific collections
    Dr. Matthew Halley, Assistant Curator of Birds, is the lead author of a recently-published paper that splits the Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus fuscater) into seven different species and four subspecies — including a newly-described species from eastern Panamá: the Darién Nightingale-thrush.
  • The du Pont Trophy
    Connecting art with science: the du Pont Trophy original paintings by artist Lauren J. Sweeney
  • Soundscapes
    Sound is a distinct part of an ecosystem. The soundscapes in the galleries are designedRead More Soundscapes

Digitizing Natural History collections

For every animal or plant you see at a natural history museum, there are millions more behind the scenes.

Research Library & Archives

The Howard and Dede Brokaw Research Library & Archives in the Collections and Research Division includes more than 10,000 volumes with an emphasis on mollusks, birds, and Delmarva ecosystems.

Scientific Publications

The museum publishes a scientific journal, Nemouria: Occasional Publications of the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

Search the collections

The bird skin, skeleton, and tissue collections are fully databased and searchable online through the iDigBio, VertNet and GBIF.org. The mollusk collection is digitized on iDigBio and InvertEBase.