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Natural history specimens on display for first time

Specimens from the extensive Museum of Natural History Collections at UC Santa Cruz will be on display to the public for the first time.

The collections were established in 1996 as part of UCSC's Environmental Studies Department and document the natural history of the campus, the UC Natural Reserves, and the Santa Cruz mountains region.

Chris Lay, the museum's curator and scientist, said much of the collections are local in nature, particularly the plant and insect collections. He plans to explain how collections are organized and how specimens are prepared for preservation and safe keeping.

The natural history collections are part of a "teaching collection" and until now have been organized solely for research and classroom use, not public display. Lay said this Saturday's first open house is an opportunity for community members to see the collections, learn more about local natural history, and get a "behind-the-scenes" sense of how a natural history museum operates.

For those in the area, specimens on display will include mammals, birds, lichens, reptiles, insects, and more from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, July 3, in adjacent rooms 229, 233, and 239 in the Natural Sciences II building, next to the Science and Engineering Library. RSVPs are requested to