The visitor coming to the museum will be able to discover a lot of animals which are presented in our permanent and temporary exhibitions. Nevertheless, the public has to bear in mind that the specimens exposed are only a small part of the entire collections. The items that are in view could be compared to the upper part of an iceberg and the core collections as the under part of the same iceberg.
The specimens are ranging from microscopic slides to the skeleton of a giraffe. The zoological specimens can be roughly divided into two main groups : invertebrates and vertebrates. Many of the invertebrates are dry prepared, but most of them are preserved in alcohol. In the vertebrate group are the most naturalized and very few are skin prepared, or alcohol preserved. Moreover, we have also many birds and mammals skeletons which constitute a precious anatomical comparison material.
Our collections can’t rival those of institutions like the Smithsonian in Washington, the NHM in London, the NHM in Paris or the American Museum in New York,… but the almost worldwide coverage is however one of the great strengths of the collections. The collections most of the time include treasures for scientists, as the holotypes*, the types, the paratypes, the cotypes, the syntypes**, the lectotypes …
Moreover, they cover not only a large geographic area, but also a significant amount of time given our national history. In fact, our oldest parts date from the early 19th century and around the years 1830 to 1835.
Our country with no colonial tradition as was the case in other European countries, our exotic specimens come mainly from Luxemburgish, Belgian, Austrian and German,… expatriates, but also thanks to acquisitions made by the different curators in charge of the museum since its inception in 1854.
* In a description of a species by its discoverer, described a single specimen used to establish the new taxon (genus, species, variety, etc.). In the case of a series of specimens (not more than one individual), we speak of syntype**. Holotype specimen is unique.
In order to preserve specimens of any deterioration, they are placed under constant conditions of temperature, humidity and placed away from UV rays in a building located at a few kilometers from the museum. A -40 ºC unit is at our disposal to deal with any eventuality, particularly in the case of an infestation of mounted specimens by parasites such as: moths or beetles…
J.-M. Guinet (curator), phone: +352 462240 – 209