About scientific collections
The cultural heritage of a nation constitutes, at the same time, a cultural and historical argumentation of the national specificity and identity, memory and a creativity source. The value of a museum institution, the place being held in the national and international hierarchy of the institutions with the same profile are determined, first of all by their heritage.
At present, the scientific heritage of “Grigore Antipa” National Museum of Natural History is made up of about 2 million specimens of invertebrates and vertebrates (current and fossils) originating from Romania and from various geographical areas, from the Ecuator to the polar regions, or collected from the water surface and from up to a depth of more than 6,000 meters.
The scientific heritage is grouped in 132 collections: zoological collections belonging to the majority of groups of current animals, collections of paleontology, ethnography and anthropology, geology, compared anatomy. In this way, the museum preserves a part of the biodiversity of Romania and the World, representing the most important source of documentation for the Romanian zoological research.
The scientific heritage of the museum originates in the collections that included 150 minerals, 213 mollusks as well as a considerable number of fish, mammals and fossils bestowed on the 3rd of November 1834 by that person who had the initiative of establishing the National Museum – Ban Mihalache Ghica (minister of the internal affairs). To these the specimens obtained further to exchanges by Carol Wallenstein – the first conservationist of the museum (1837-1859) and those acquired by his successor, Carlo Ferreratti (1860-1867) through his relations with the Museum of Torino are to be added. Professor Gregoriu Ştefănescu who was next as museum director (1867-1893) enriched the collections of geology and paleontology, most of all.
A spectacular enrichment of the collections takes place after the appointment of Grigore Antipa as director of the museum in 1893. The rich and important donation (1882 and 1895) of doctor Hilarie Mitrea is to be distinguished, comprising zoological and ethnographic specimens collected from the Indonesia Archipelago. Grigore Antipa developed an intense activity aimed to bring to the museum valuable collections representing a rich and diverse exotic material. In this sense he contacted specialized companies from abroad (Austria, Germany) for acquisitions, but he also encouraged the development of collections through donations (the respective donors being both Romanians and foreigners – explorers, scientific personalities, members of the diplomatic corps etc.). Starting from those 2038 specimens being taken over by Grigore Antipa in 1893, the heritage was increased to more than 200,000, the most spectacular ones being present in the permanent exhibitions organized by him based on modern museological principles.
The development of the scientific heritage took place after 1964, when Acad. Mihai Băcescu was appointed as director, who encouraged the research of the fauna from Romania and from all over the world by the museum specialists. After 1990 the collections were enriched with the material collected from the trips in the country, made with the purpose of evaluating the diversity of the terrestrial and aquatic fauna and also from the expeditions organized by the museum or those where the museum specialists were invited to participate to.
The development of the scientific heritage of „Grigore Antipa” Museum is an on-going process. The modalities to set up the collections are: collection of biological material (while observing the statute of protected species), exchanges of scientific material with institutions in the field, acquisitions, donations.
At present the largest collection in the scientific heritage of MNINGA is the insect one.
At present the largest collection within the scientific heritage of MNINGA is the insect one, with more than 1,000,000 specimens, several of them being collected 100 years ago. Then follows the Scientific Collection of Mollusks with 250,000 specimens and the Crustacean Collection with 103,000 specimens. The vertebrate collections include 46,500 specimens..
As part of the collections, the most important place from the scientific and documentary point of view, the true treasure of the scientific heritage of the museum, is that of the specimens based on which new species were described, the so-called typical specimens. These mostly originate from the foreign fauna and belong to the collections of invertebrates (6,986 specimens), vertebrates (91 specimens), paleontology (1 specimen).
More than 3500 movable cultural assets of an exceptional value, representative at international and national level are classified within the legal category of thesaurus and a number of 86 having an outstanding value for Romania are classified within the legal category of fund. These are registered and centralized within the national basis of record data of the classified movable cultural assets.
Taking into account the existence of a great number of restrictions, conventions and international laws, it is more and more difficult to obtain today such specimens to be included in collections. As such, museums, as keepers of perennial values, should know, love and safeguard their heritage for the future generations, as well.