The University of Texas at Austin Texas Natural Science Center Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory

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Type, Figured, and Historic Collections

All museum collections require periodic maintenance. The diverse origins of our collections create challenging problems with respect to their curation.

Current efforts include major conservation within the type collection as part of one NSF project and within the historic collection as part of another NSF project.

Many fossils collected about 100 years ago were coated in shellac, or equivalent. The technique was common at the time and produced an impressive glossy surface and in some instances even prevented the specimens from falling apart. The practice, however, has left us with a conservation issue. What should we do with aging, discolored, often cracking fossils that were chemically treated in this way? Follow our progress as we try to tackle this challenge with this first experiment!

Here are some other issues with glimpses of how they are being addressed, initially with the help of a previous IMLS project.


Deteriorating specimens
Images of historical publications with current status images illustrating deterioration. The first example is a specimen originally coated in shellac, now cracked and damaged the underlying fossil.

Fabienne Grellet-Tinner, when an undergraduate, cleaning and repairing damaged specimens.


Frequently used abbreviations: NPL  Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory | TNSC Texas Natural Science Center | UTDGS Department of Geological Sciences | BEG  Bureau of Economic Geology | VPL Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory | JSG  Jackson School of Geosciences | SUPPORT | VOLUNTEER | GLOSSARY

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