A research museum
Biological research museums have a mission similar to that of libraries, but instead of preserving books, biological collections preserve individual organisms. Collections grow continuously through activities of faculty, students, and other researchers, as well as by exchange with other museums. As they grow, collections increase in value, preserving samples of natural variation, documenting the occurrence of species in space and time, and providing a critical basis for our understanding of species identity. Biological collections are also the source of information regarding phylogenetic (evolutionary) relationships, whether morphological or genetic. Without this phylogenetic context, no comparative biology would be possible. This important role of many museums is often invisible to people who are used to thinking of them only in terms of exhibits. We are not an exhibit museum and do not have public displays, but focus on research and education.