Biodiversity Museum Day Showcases 13 Collections

This Saturday (Feb. 15), walk from ancient dinosaur bones to stick insects, from hawks to honey bees, and from California condor specimens to carnivorous plants. It’s all part of Biodiversity Museum Day, the annual event bringing together 13 museums and collections that throw open their doors to the public for free to give everyone — especially youngsters — a chance to see and touch UC Davis research.

Nine departments are represented, all within walking distance on campus except the California Raptor Center and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. Parking is free, and last year more than 4,000 people attended. Exhibit hours vary — see individual listings below.

New this year: public talks from noon to 1 p.m. in 194 Young Hall. Speaking will be Gabriella Nevitt, professor, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior; butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology; and Melanie Truan, staff research associate, Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology and former postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis.

The organizers offer this “pro tip”: Don't try to visit every collection! Take your time and choose a few places to visit and then spend some quality time there. This event will happen again next year, so you can visit other collections then. We want you to have an enjoyable day delving into the biological sciences.  

Biodiversity Museum Day, founded in 2011, is billed as an opportunity for the public to learn about nature, science and the work of UC Davis around the globe. The day focuses on natural history showcasing the university's critically important research and teaching collections, the committee related. Many students attend Biodiversity Museum Day to gather information on career choices.

All participating museums and collections have active education and outreach programs, but the collections are not always accessible to the public. In the event of rain, alternative locations are planned for the outdoor sites.

Here are details for each collection and museum; click on any of the gray bars to learn more.

Arboretum and Public Garden

  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • The Arboretum and Public Garden will celebrate Biodiversity Museum Day in the Shields Oak Grove.
  • Discover one of our campus's most scientifically significant tree collections while participating in a slew of all-ages activities focused on the ecologically important oak.

Bohart Museum of Entomology

  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • 1124 Academic Surge
  • Global collection of nearly 8 million insect specimens, including 500,000 butterflies/moths, a “petting zoo” of live cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas.

Botanical Conservatory

  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Kleiber Hall Drive
  • Featuring a cacao tree that is expected to be full of ripe fruit to view, a well-established pond, a new epiphyte tree and three tall titan arums, otherwise known as the corpse flower when in bloom.

California Raptor Center

Center for Plant Diversity

  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • 1026 Sciences Laboratory Building
  • See a plant “petting zoo” made up of mosses, pine cones, ferns and flowering plants.
  • Examine plants under microscope.
  • Plant-pressing and mounting demonstrations, and plant-pressing for children.

Department of
Anthropology Museum

  • Noon-4 p.m.
  • 328 Young Hall, inside and outside
  • See art, primate skeletons and casts, make tools from obsidian stone and throw a spear with an atlatl (for leverage).

Honey Bee Haven

Marine Invertebrate Collection (no website)

  • Noon-4 p.m.
  • Sciences Laboratory Building
  • Touch tanks, preserved specimens, and displays showing aspects of marine ecology and evolution.
  • Children’s seashell activity.

Museum of
Fish and Wildlife Biology

  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • 1394 Academic Surge
  • The museum will show off displays of carnivores, bats, reptiles and fish.
  • Children’s craft table.
  • Bird and mammal taxidermy demonstrations.

Nematode Collection

Paleobiology Collection

  • 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Earth and Physical Sciences Building
  • Fossil specimens dating back as far as 550 million years.
  • Graduate students in invertebrate and vertebrate paleontology will answer questions and provide interesting factoids.

Phaff Yeast Culture Collection and Viticulture and Enology
Culture Collection

  • 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • A joint exhibit hosted in the Robert Mondavi Institute Brewery, Winery and Food Pilot Facility
  • Taste kombucha and Vegemite, smell different species of yeast, look at yeast and bacteria cells under microscope, learn about the history of yeast research at UC Davis, and hear about the latest discoveries coming out of the UC Davis yeast collection.

Kathy Keatley Garvey contributed to this report.

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