THE UNIVERSITY MUSEUMS
THE University Museums consist of four teaching and research units, a Section of Exhibits, and a service unit of librarian, artist, craftsman, receptionist and information clerk, secretary, and superintendent of the building. Each of the four museums — the Museum of Zoology, the Museum of Paleontology, the Museum of Anthropology, and the University Herbarium — comprises a notable collection in its particular field, and a staff of specialists is responsible for the care, growth, arrangement, and productive use of the collection in research and teaching. Such museums, designed as tools in the biological sciences, document our growing knowledge of the tremendous diversity and yet orderliness of organic life by providing a repository of authentically determined and naturally arranged specimens. They are used for reference by the naturalist, the conservationist, and other workers in cognate fields and provide essential data for continuing study on the related problems of the evolution, distribution, and classification of organisms (see the separate articles on these museums).
The research and teaching collections are necessarily detailed and huge. They require extensive series with attached technical data and involve problems of preparation, compact storage, and arrangement that fit them for the use of the special student rather than the general public. A special Section of Exhibits staffed by scientifically trained specialists and equipped to present a less detailed but clear and accurate account of the data and principles of natural history is thus an essential part of the Museums' contribution to general education.
The exhibits occupy the entire second, third, and fourth floors of the Washtenaw Avenue wing of the Museums Building and a series of wall cases in the rotunda. The rotunda exhibits are a frequently changed series of topical displays arranged to show some phase of the work of the research museums, the sequence of techniques used in the construction of a new exhibit, or material of current interest in conservation or natural history.
The exhibits on the second floor form the Hall of Evolution and are arranged to illustrate the sequence of life through the geological ages. In large part the exhibits are actual fossils, but much use is made of reconstructions and models, and of dioramas that represent past geological ages in three-dimensional scenes with typical animals and plants shown as though alive in their ancient habitats. Many of the exhibits are of special interest because they are also a part of the research and teaching collections of the Museum of Paleontology, and many of the skeletal preparations and restorations were made by or under the direction of Michigan's great paleontologist and teacher, Ermine C. Case. The Guide to the Hall of Evolution facilitates their use and enjoyment.
On the third and fourth floors are modern animals and plants, with dioramas and cases given to Michigan's early Indian populations and cultures. The native fauna and flora of Michigan on the third floor show the wealth and variety of our state's wild life and enable the nature lover to observe at close range named specimens of the forms he has seen out-of-doors. The more elaborate exhibits of the fourth floor, by means of dioramas and selected groups of specimens and models, present important relationships and interdependencies Page 1432that govern the lives of animals and plants in nature. Some of these illustrate important correlations by which a particular organism and its special problems of existence in nature are recognized; others are concerned with the mechanisms that underlie important but intricate and subtle biological processes, and many are able to include something of the aesthetic appeal that is a very real part of natural history.
Mention should also be made of the Animal House situated between the two wings of the main building. A convenient arrangement of out-of-door cages is connected with individual shelters within a small central brick building. Surrounded by a narrow moat and guard rail, this structure houses a collection of Michigan mammals that attracts both adult and juvenile visitors. An adjacent Reptile Pit is for the display of living frogs, turtles, and snakes.
Although the present organization and title of the University Museums date from 1928, when the several units were brought together in the newly erected University Museums Building, the idea of university museums of natural history and the establishment of the first collections go back to the legislative acts of 1837 providing for the University of Michigan: "The Board of Regents shall have authority to expend so much of the interest arising from the University Fund as may be necessary for the purchase of Philosophical and other apparatus, a library and Cabinet of Natural History" (Mich. Laws, S.S., 1837). In the same month of that year the newly appointed Board of Regents at their first meeting created a committee "On the Library, Philosophical Apparatus, and Cabinet of Natural History" (R.P., 1837-64, p. 4), and at the second meeting Regent Schoolcraft submitted the following resolutions, which were adopted:
Resolved, That the Committee on the Library, Philosophical Apparatus, and Cabinet of Natural History, be directed to inquire into the following subjects.
First. The expediency of employing, at the earliest practicable period, a suitable agent to visit Europe for the purpose of procuring the necessary Philosophical Apparatus and standard books for the University.
Second. The propriety of instituting such inquiries and taking such preliminary steps as may be proper, to lay the foundation of a suitable collection of specimens for the University Cabinet, in the various departments of Natural History.
Third. Of calling the attention of the Executive to the propriety of directing the State Geologist to secure the large mass of native copper on the shores of Lake Superior for the University Cabinet, and of recommending that the expense of its transportation be paid out of the University Funds.
(R.P., 1837-64, p. 17.)
The interest of the University in a "Cabinet of Natural History" is evinced by the promptness with which the idea was put into effect. Although construction of the first University buildings in Ann Arbor did not begin until 1840 and the first classes did not meet until the fall of 1841, steps to acquire the Library and the Cabinet of Natural History and to purchase "Philosophical Instruments" were taken almost immediately.
Asa Gray, who had received an appointment as Professor of Botany and Zoology in 1838 and who was planning a trip to Europe, was given $5,000 for the purchase of books abroad. He resigned soon after his return from Europe, but among the 3,400 books that were obtained was a notable selection suitable to complement and be used in conjunction with the Cabinet of Natural History.
In 1838 an extensive and highly esteemed mineralogical collection was purchased for $4,000 from Baron Lederer of Austria and, at about the same time, the newly formed Geological Survey of Michigan made the University a repository Page 1433for geological, mineralogical, botanical, and zoological specimens collected in exploration of the state.
At the close of the year 1840 a committee of the Regents could report to Michigan's Superintendent of Public Instruction that "extensive and valuable collections in geology, mineralogy, botany and zoology, made within the geographical area of Michigan, by the state geologist and his exploratory corps" had been added to the nucleus formed by the Lederer Collection and that "one of the professors' buildings has been temporarily appropriated to the reception of the cabinet of natural history, which has been provided, or is in the process of accumulation, for the use of the professors and students in its various departments" (Mich., Senate Doc., 1841, p. 401).
It is evident that there was a clear appreciation of the role natural history collections should play as a part of the University; this interest and the financial provision made for such collections from the meager resources then available was perhaps an augury of the generous support and high repute Michigan's natural history museums were later to achieve in both research and teaching. It was well for the perpetuation of the museum idea that this initial concept so promptly resulted in a very respectable nucleus of actual collections, for the concrete existence of the collections was several times to serve as the chief thread of continuity between periods of active progress.
When classes began, Dr. Abram Sager, who had been appointed Professor of Botany and Zoology after the resignation of Asa Gray, was in charge of the biological collections and was responsible for them from 1842 until 1855, the year in which he gave up the chair of Botany and Zoology to devote himself entirely to his duties as a professor in the Medical Department. Sager was closely associated with Houghton in the first Geological Survey of Michigan, and his appreciation of the need for carefully preserved and well-documented specimens in biological study is indicated in the Second Annual Report of the State Geologist (1839): "It must be obvious to every reflecting mind, that no well directed or availing efforts can be made, either to improve the advantages or to avert the evils growing out of our connections with the animal world, without an intimate knowledge of their structures, capabilities and habits. Destitute of this knowledge, we but strike in the dark, and are more likely to impair than improve our interests." In Ruthven's estimate: "The collections show that throughout the time of his connection with the University Sager gave much thought to the Museum. In fact the collections obtained through him, and his services to the institution, give him the right to be considered the founder of the Museum" (Rept. of the Curator…, 1910, p. 8).
The coming of Henry Philip Tappan as the first President of the University brought strong support of the idea of museums as a part of a university. Through his influence and reputation the young Museum first received recognition and important assistance from the administrators and naturalists who were then guiding the Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum. Tappan's preface to the Catalogue of the Trowbridge Collection of Natural History in the Museum of the University of Michigan and the included letter of transmittal from Professor Henry are well worth quoting in full:
The History of the Trowbridge Collection of Natural History, the Catalogue of which is here published, cannot be better given than by transcribing the letter of Professor Henry, the distinguished Secretary of the Smithsonian Page 1434Institution, accompanying the donation.
Lieut. Trowbridge was elected Professor of Mathematics in the University of Michigan soon after his return from the Pacific Coast. Before, however, he had any intimation of the intention of the Board of Regents, he had already decided upon the disposition of this valuable collection.
We felicitated ourselves that we had gained at the same time a Professor of rare ability, acquirements, and promise, united to the finest moral and social qualities, and a rich addition to our Museum.
The Professor remained with us only long enough to endear himself to us, and to make us regret his loss. He was appointed Professor, May, 1856; he resigned his professorship, June, 1857, recalled to the service of the coast survey by the urgent friendship and appreciation of Dr. Bache.
The Museum to which he has contributed so largely will always preserve this splendid memorial of his attachment to his native State and his devotion to science.
But the benefits we have received through him are not confined to this collection. The letter of Professor Henry assures us of the permanent friendship and co-operation of the Smithsonian Institution. Within a few months past we have had substantial proofs of this in new donations of great value.
The Regents of the University are thus encouraged to put forth an enlightened zeal in the cause of science, and will endeavor to build up, in this young University of the North-West, a great and well-ordered Museum that shall reflect honor upon the State and justify the liberal patronage of the Smithsonian Institution.
Henry P. Tappan, President
University of Michigan,
Letter of Prof. Henry
Washington, April 1, 1859.
Dear Sir: —
I have the honor to forward, under the care of Mr. Kennicott, a collection of specimens of Natural History, chiefly of North America, as a donation from the Smithsonian Institution to the Museum of the University of Michigan. This collection is intended in part to discharge an obligation which the Institution is under to Lieut. W. P. Trowbridge, recently a Professor of Michigan University, and late of the U. S. Army. This gentleman, during his period of duty on the Pacific Coast of the United States, devoted all his leisure time to the collection of objects of Natural History, and with such success as to identify his name with the history of discovery in the Zoology of Western America. A large number of the vertebrate animals of that portion of the continent were first brought to light by him, and of quite a considerable proportion, no other specimens than his have as yet been added to any Museum. In view of the fact that the researches of Lieut. Trowbridge were prosecuted almost entirely at his own expense, it was considered but an act of justice on the part of the Institution to promise as full a series of his collections as could be spared to any public Institution which he might designate, and that would take the necessary steps for their preservation. He has selected the University of his native State as the recipient of this favor, and it gives us pleasure to transmit the first portion of the series in question, with additions from other collections belonging to the Institution. Many of the specimens are of great rarity, and not to be found at present in any Museum but that of the Smithsonian Institution. Additional collections will be forwarded from time to time, as the specimens are properly identified and labelled by the various gentlemen who now have them in charge.
The labor of selecting, labelling, and cataloguing the collection has been performed, under the direction of Prof. Baird, by Mr. Kennicott, who has been diligently occupied in the work for several months. In the collection sent, it is believed that the University of Michigan will possess a very valuable series of American animals, both on account of the great rarity of many of the specimens, and the accurate identification of the species.
It is hoped that this collection will be rendered constantly available in the course of instruction in your important Institution, and that it will be the means of diffusing a Page 1435knowledge of Natural History among the educated youths of our country.
We shall be happy to continue in any way in our power to co-operate with you, in accordance with the objects of this Institution, in "the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men."
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Joseph Henry, Secretary.
Dr. Tappan, President Univ. of Mich.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
There is evidence that Tappan's plans for the new University, outlined to Lieutenant Trowbridge in 1855 or early 1856 when the latter visited the University on his return from the Pacific Coast, led Trowbridge to designate Michigan as the repository of this collection. The Mr. Kennicott who prepared and catalogued the collection and brought it to Ann Arbor was the brilliant young naturalist, Robert Kennicott, who was to die in 1866 in his early thirties in the Yukon. Kennicott left for an expedition along "MacKenzie's River, Hudson Bay Territory," soon after his delivery of the Trowbridge Collection; he was commissioned by a joint Smithsonian and University of Michigan grant and a contribution from the Audubon Club to make a collection of "Specimens in natural history from the northwest" (Winchell).
Alexander Winchell was appointed Professor of Geology, Zoology, and Botany in 1855, and the Museum was under his direction until his resignation in 1873. During this time there was continued growth and much progress in administration and organization. In 1863 Winchell prepared a Report, Historical and Statistical, on the Collections in Geology, Zoölogy and Botany in the Museum of the University of Michigan, which was published by the University in 1864. The collections at the time of this report contained 26,000 geological and paleontological, 12,500 zoological, and 8,000 botanical specimens. In addition to the Trowbridge Collection, the birds obtained by Kennicott, and the large collections from the Michigan Geological Survey of 1859-60, there are listed the Charles A. White Collection of some 2,000 fossils; a collection of fossils made by Rominger under an appropriation from the Board of Regents; the purchase of the Rominger European collection of fossils; and a long series of small but valuable accessions from alumni, students, and other friends of the University.
For several years after Winchell's resignation the Museum received scant attention or support. Winchell's successors in the professorship of natural science were occupied by teaching duties and had little time for and apparently little interest in the Museum. Responsibility for the collections was undertaken by Mark W. Harrington, Assistant Professor of Geology, Zoology, and Botany in 1873-74 and "Assistant Professor in charge of Zoology and Botany," 1874-77. Harrington, whose own career was to be in mathematics and astronomy, had been an assistant for several years under Winchell, with duties divided between teaching, the Museum, and the Michigan Geological Survey.
The Museum's "Journal" of accessions and activities for these years bears dreary testimony to the plight of a collection without direction or plan. The impetus of alumni interest from Sager's and Winchell's time brought in a dwindling number of valuable and useful accessions, but they had little relevance to one another or to any definite goal and were intermingled with a miscellany of curiosities that had little claim to curatorial time or museum space.
In 1876, however, the Museum began another period of marked development and was strongly influenced by the growing interest in the geographic distribution of animals. In that year Joseph Beal Page 1436Steere was appointed Assistant Professor of Paleontology and Curator of the Museum, to become in 1877 Assistant Professor of Zoology and Paleontology and Curator of the Museum and in 1879 Professor of Zoology. Steere in 1875 had just returned from the first of the series of tropical expeditions that were to bring huge collections of South American and Philippine accessions to the Museum and, incidentally, to lay the foundation for the major role that the University of Michigan was to play in education and administration in the Philippines. He had always been intensely interested in natural history and as an undergraduate had spent much time in the Museum as a student and volunteer worker under Winchell. His imagination and enthusiasm had also been greatly stimulated by the then recent The Naturalist on the River Amazon by Henry W. Bates. Immediately after his graduation from the Law Department in 1870, with financial aid from Rice A. Beal, a wealthy resident of Ann Arbor, he set out alone on an expedition that was to carry him up the Amazon and along several of its tributaries, across the Andes into Peru and Ecuador and from there across the Pacific to the Philippines, Formosa, and the Moluccas. He returned to Ann Arbor by way of the Suez, and in London, at the British Museum, he began a long continued friendship and collaboration with Philip L. Sclater, Alfred Russel Wallace, R. Bowdler Sharpe, Albert Günther, and other eminent zoologists of the time.
The Beal-Steere Collection that resulted from this first expedition comprised 60,000 zoological and 1,156 botanical specimens and much archaeological and anthropological material. In the summer of 1879 Steere made a second visit to the Amazon, this time in company with three of his students, and in 1887-88 took a year's leave of absence to conduct a second expedition to the Philippines, again with a group of students.
The revived interest in the Museum with the large accessions of the Beal-Steere Collection led to the erection of the first University Museum Building, now the Romance Language Building. This was ready for use in 1880-81, and the natural history collections which had been housed (largely stored) in the North Wing of old University Hall were moved into the new building, and opened to the public.
With the provision of a special Museum Building, the Board of Regents adopted a set of rules that concerned all University collections:
- I. The various illustrative collections belonging to the University are arranged in the following museums:
- (1) The Museum of Fine Arts and History;
- (2) The Museum of Natural History;
- (3) The Museum of Applied Chemistry;
- (4) The Museum of the Department of Medicine and Surgery;
- (5) The Museum of the Homoeopathic Medical College;
- (6) The Museum of the College of Dental Surgery.
- II. The president of the University shall have the general supervision of the relations of the museums to each other and to the University; and he shall have power to decide all questions affecting these relations, his decisions to be subject to revision by the Board of Regents.
- III. The Professors in charge of the instruction in Mineralogy, Geology, Botany, and Zoölogy shall be the Curators of the corresponding collections in the Museum of Natural History; the Professor of Zoölogy shall also have charge of the collections illustrating Archaeology and Ethnology.…
- IV. For the Museum of Natural History there shall be a Custodian appointed, who shall perform, under the direction of the Curators, the duties with which Custodians of similar Museums are ordinarily charged. He Page 1437shall also, when required, assist the several Professors, who make use of the collections in the Museum at their lectures.
- V. It shall be the duty of each of the Curators mentioned in III to make an annual report to the President of the University on the condition of the collection or the Museum under his charge; which reports or the substance thereof, shall be embodied by the President in his annual report to the Board of Regents. (R.P., 1881-86, p. 292.)
As Ruthven wrote in 1910:
There could hardly have been a worse arrangement than this, as far as the Museum of Natural History was concerned, for the curators were entirely independent of each other and no custodian could be expected to hold the departments together and insure the uniform development of the different collections. This is shown by the results. The professors of geology largely ignored the collections in their charge, which gradually deteriorated until they could hardly have been in a worse condition. On the other hand, fortunately for the zoological and anthropological collections, the professors of zoology continued to take a keen interest in their department in the Museum, and the collections have grown steadily in numbers and value.
(Rept. of the Curator…, 1910, pp. 10-11.)
The new building of 1880-81, which had been erected for the natural history collections, also provided several classrooms in geology and paleontology and quarters for two notable gifts to the University. In 1885 the Chinese government presented the University with material that had formed the Chinese exhibit at the New Orleans Exposition in 1884-85. As much of this collection as there was space to display formed a popular exhibit for the forty years the building continued to house the Museum. In 1900 the great collection of musical instruments brought together by Frederick Stearns, of Detroit, "to illustrate the development of musical instruments in many lands," and presented by him in 1899, was placed on exhibition in the Museum, where it remained until its removal to the newly erected Hill Auditorium in 1914.
In 1894 Jacob E. Reighard succeeded Steere in the professorship of zoology and was thus, by the Regents' ruling of 1882, also in charge of the zoological and archaeological and ethnological collections. It soon became evident that the rapid growth of the Zoology Department under Reighard and of the Museum under Steere had made it impractical for both to be directly administered and cared for by the "Professor in charge of instruction." Accordingly, in 1895 Reighard's title was changed to Professor of Zoology and Director of the Zoological Laboratory and Museum, and Dean C. Worcester was appointed Assistant Professor of Zoology and Curator of the Zoological Museum. Neither Reighard nor Worcester was primarily interested in the Museum. This was a period when morphology was in the ascendancy as a zoological discipline, and Reighard was an enthusiastic and productive student of morphology. A natural history museum had little relevance to a research and teaching program centered about morphological problems, and its directorship was a responsibility rather than an opportunity.
Soon after his appointment to the curatorship, Worcester was given leave to study the policies and operation of some of the outstanding eastern museums and visited the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, Peabody Museum at Yale, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the National Museum at Washington. On his return he proposed a policy for the University Museum that was approved by the Regents (R.P., 1891-96, pp. 545-53). Essentially, this policy was to devote the resources and activities of the Museum to: (1) exhibits for the instruction and entertainment of Page 1438the public and (2) the development of illustrative and study series. Worcester pointed out the need for extensive and detailed collections of the Michigan biota but felt that this was a function of the state rather than of the University and suggested that the Museum should be taken over by the state.
As a result of this viewpoint and policy, the period from 1894 to 1903 was one in which the Museum had little part in the educational or research program of the University. When Worcester left the University in 1898, his successor in the department gave full time to instruction, and Herbert E. Sargeant was appointed a part-time curator of the Museum without teaching assignment. Sargeant devoted his attention largely to exhibits, and numerous small but excellent habit groups of Michigan animals were made under his direction by Norman A. Wood. Wood had been employed originally as a taxidermist to mount the birds of the Steere Collection and was eventually to win recognition as an outstanding authority on Michigan ornithology; he became Curator of Birds under Ruthven.
The appointment of Charles C. Adams as Curator in 1903 brought a new impetus and direction to the Museum. To Adams, museum collections were tools for ecological and faunistic research. The zoological collections were reorganized, inventoried, and more adequately catalogued for scientific use, and an active exploration of the natural history of Michigan and its biotic relationships was begun. Adams enlisted the aid of several gifted and enthusiastic amateur naturalists of Michigan and with their help was able to conduct or send parties of staff members and students for organized field work to parts of Michigan that were biologically little known. The Museum was again concerned with University teaching, particularly with instruction that centered about the curators' special research interests and the planned objectives of the Museum. Adams revived the annual reports of the Museum inaugurated by Winchell.
Before Adams resigned in 1906 to become the director of the Cincinnati Museum, he had discovered an enthusiastic protégé in a young graduate student, Alexander G. Ruthven, who led biological expeditions to Isle Royale and the Porcupine Mountains. In 1906 Ruthven received his doctorate in zoology with a pioneering study of geographic distribution as a factor in animal evolution and was appointed Curator to succeed Adams. Thus began the long career of constructive planning and leadership that was to give the Museum of Zoology its status as a research and teaching institution and establish the University Museums as a functional part of the University.
Until 1913 the Museum remained, at least in theory, a part of the Zoology Department, and the reports of the Director of the University Museum were transmitted formally by Reighard, Professor of Zoology and Director of the Zoological Laboratory and Zoological Museum. This discrepancy in the designation of the Museum is particularly apparent in the last report (1911-12) to be formally transmitted by Reighard in which the title was Report of the Head Curator of the Museum of Natural History. Then, in 1913, the Regents recognized the Museum as a separate unit of the University, renamed it the Museum of Zoology, and appointed Ruthven Director. This was a formal recognition of the trend that had begun with Steere and received increasing impetus from Adams and Ruthven. All three had made or were making enthusiastic and highly productive use of the Museum for teaching and research, and, since all were zoologists, the Museum had come to Page 1439have preponderantly zoological collections and research interests. Ruthven's first Report of the Director of the Museum of Zoology (1912-13) reviews the varying departmental interests and events that contributed to the history of the Museum between 1882 and 1913:
A history of the museum to the close of the fiscal year 1909-1910 was printed in the annual report for that year. Since that time important changes in the organization have taken place, making it advisable to complete the history to date.
It is evident from the published reports that the founders of the museum had broad and comprehensive views of what its scope should be, and a similarly broad plan underlaid the reorganization that took place when the institution was installed in the new building — in 1882. Unfortunately the plan of administration adopted when the museum was reorganized was not conducive to a general and equal growth of the departments. The university professors of the natural sciences represented in the museum were by virtue of their positions curators of the various collections, and no provision was made for a director who should be responsible for the general development of the institution. The result of this arrangement was that each department went its own way and was developed or neglected according to the interests of the persons in charge, growth was naturally greatest in the department in which most interest was exhibited, and the zoological collections soon came to be of most importance and to require most of the facilities.
For many years the collections in the Museum of Natural History were those of zoology, anthropology and geology, the botanical and mineralogical collections being housed with the respective departments and devoted to class use. From 1895-1913 the zoological department was in charge of the Professor of Zoology (Jacob Reighard), as director, and a curator who also acted a[s] custodian of the other collections. In 1909 the geological collections were taken over by the Department of Geology, so that since that date the museum has consisted only of the collections of zoology and anthropology, and to properly designate its restricted scope the Board of Regents, at the March meeting, 1913, changed the name of the institution from the Museum of Natural History to the Museum of Zoology.
Whatever may be said of the advisability of this restriction of the scope of the museum it is apparent that it has taken place gradually and naturally, as the result of a lack of interest in the museum on the part of most of the men in charge, and that the change in name is simply a formal recognition of the conditions. At the same time it should be recognized that the reduction in the number of departments will have the distinct advantage of making the museum more efficient, since the facilities are only sufficient to permit of the successful development of one or two fields of natural science.
Another important change in the organization was made this year in the transferring of the directorship of the museum from the professor of zoology to the head curator. This distinctly separates the museum from all other departments in the university, placing it upon the same footing as the General Library, and definitely fixes the responsibility for its development upon the person directly in charge.
Such general museum exhibits and services as already existed were maintained, and the Museum of Zoology continued the custodianship of the growing anthropological and archaeological collections, including the Chinese exhibition, but both space and budget were limited, and active development of an exhibit program was impossible until an adequate building and financial support could be provided. The years from 1913 to 1928 were, however, a period of growth of the separate natural history collections, and notably so for the Museum of Zoology under Ruthven. Between 1913 and 1927 its active full-time staff grew from five to fourteen, its collections more than quadrupled and were organized into six major "divisions," each with a full-time curator, and two series of publications based on Page 1440the Museum's researches were established.
Almost equally important was the staunch friendship of the group of influential amateur naturalists who were early attracted by the Museum's program of studies, and as honorary curators and associates were active in counsel, research, and support. Among them were Bryant Walker and Bradshaw H. Swales of Detroit, and Dr. William W. Newcomb of Ann Arbor, whose financial aid made possible the first Museum publications and many of the earlier expeditions, and Calvin Goodrich of Toledo, Ohio, and E. B. Williamson of Bluffton, Indiana, who resigned from successful careers as a newspaper editor and a banker, respectively, to devote full time to notable studies on the Museum's collections of mollusks and dragonflies.
An unavoidable result of the rapidly accelerating growth was that the old building became increasingly inadequate, and the collections began to overflow into whatever available space could be found. A few rooms in the Natural Science Building and some attic rooms in the Medical Building and in University Hall were made available, and finally three houses acquired by the University in its purchase of property for University construction were pressed into service. None of the space was permanent, much of it (like the old Museum building itself) was both inadequate in facilities and in protection from fire, and the whole arrangement was far from efficient.
The pressing need for adequate quarters was also accentuated by the development of the other natural history collections and their organization into separate research museums. In 1921 the Herbarium was created by the merger of the plant collections in the Museum of Zoology and those in the Department of Botany. In 1922 the Museum of Anthropology was organized as an independent unit, and the extensive paleontological collections were formally organized in the Museum of Paleontology. The need for more adequate quarters was clearly recognized in the early 1920's, and by 1925, when the legislature appropriated $900,000 for a museum building and equipment, plans for the organization of the new University Museums were well under way.
The new building was finally ready for occupancy in 1928, and the Museums of Zoology, Anthropology, and Paleontology and the University Herbarium were housed in a functionally planned and admirably appointed building. Ruthven had given many years of thought to a university museum and the role it should play. He and his staff had carried on the researches and amassed the carefully selected and pertinently documented collections that were bringing the Museum an international reputation. The University Museums' attainment of academic status and financial support was pre-eminently his accomplishment, and the new building reflected both his concept of what a university museum building should be and the detailed planning that only a trained museum staff could provide. The excellence of this planning is perhaps best shown by the fact that today, twenty-five years after completion, the Museums Building remains a model for the combined storage and active use of large research collections. Even the crowding and overflow that twenty-five years of growth would entail were foreseen; the plans provided and space was reserved for a now greatly needed addition that would be integral with the present building. Extensive provision was also made for a renewed and modern program of exhibits and a technical service staff to meet the common needs of the several units.
An organization that had been approved Page 1441by the Regents in 1925 was put into full operation. Ruthven became Director of the University Museums as well as Director of the Museum of Zoology, with supervision of the Museums Building, its common services, and the interrelations of the four independent museums. Each of these museums had its own staff and director and was free to work out its own co-operative arrangement with the teaching departments in its particular discipline, while all shared as museums the common problems that came with the responsibility for the curatorial care of active research and teaching collections. The responsibility for the revived exhibit program was for some years left to the individual museums. With the occupancy of the new building, Crystal Thompson, a former staff member of the Museum of Zoology, was recalled from Amherst, where she had gone to develop the Amherst College Museum, to be Curator of Extension Work and Exhibits in the Museum of Zoology. She developed exhibits and loan collections in zoology and initiated both the exhibit of Michigan fauna on the third-floor balcony and the Hall of Biological Principles on the fourth floor. At the same time the paleontological exhibits were organized as the Hall of Evolution under the direction of Ermine C. Case, the Director of the Museum of Paleontology.
In 1929 Ruthven resigned the directorship of the Museum of Zoology to accept the presidency of the University but retained the directorship of the University Museums until the increasing burden forced him to relinquish all direct relations with the Museums in 1936, when Carl Eugen Guthe, Director of the Museum of Anthropology, was appointed Director of the University Museums. Guthe resigned the directorship of the University Museums and of the Museum of Anthropology in 1944 to accept the directorship of the New York State Museum at Albany, where he succeeded Charles C. Adams, who had been Ruthven's predecessor as Curator of the University Museum. Upon Guthe's resignation a somewhat different plan of administration was adopted for the University Museums. The functions of the director were transferred to an Operating Committee comprised of the directors of the four museums (and, from 1944 to 1950, of the Director of the Laboratory of Vertebrate Biology).
In 1947, in a reorganization of the exhibits program, the position of prefect of exhibits was established to provide a supervisor responsible to the Operating Committee for the combined exhibit program of the four University Museums. Irving G. Reimann was brought from the Buffalo Museum of Science to assume this position, and funds were provided for a small but efficient staff of technicians, artists, and docents. The results of this program are now increasingly evident as each year has shown good progress in the number and quality of the exhibits.
In the accounts of the constituent museums are described the parts which each has played in the development of the University Museums. The year 1928 marked the beginning of a new era of opportunity and productivity for them. As collections grow, questions of selectivity and direction become increasingly important. Accessions which at an earlier stage filled important needs for taxonomic or distributional representation must be scrutinized in the light of whether the additional data they provide justify the space they occupy and the time their processing entails. The existing collections, the maturing concepts of cognate fields, and the proposed research and teaching problems of the staff become increasingly important in shaping the policies and Page 1442utilizing the opportunities peculiar to university museums.
As Ruthven wrote in taking formal leave of his staff and colleagues in the Museum of Zoology: "The Museum is not finished. It never can be if it is to be a functioning unit of the University. My earnest hope is that it will grow and change with the times and serve science and the University with increasing effectiveness" (A Naturalist in a University Museum).
Adams, Charles C.Report of the Curator of the University of Michigan Museum to the Board of Regents … Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1903-4.
Catalogue of the Trowbridge Collection of Natural History in the Museum of the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor: Published by the University, 1861.
Farrand, Elizabeth M.History of the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor: Register Publ. House, 1885.
Gaige, Frederick M.Report of the Director of the Museum of Zoology … Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1930-33.
Hinsdale, Burke A.History of the University of Michigan. Ed. by Isaac N. Demmon. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1906.
Michigan. Laws of Michigan.Special Session of 1837, No. IV. June 21, 1837.
Michigan. Senate Documents. 1841.
Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1865-1954.
Reighard, Jacob. MS, Correspondence, 1894-1903.
Reighard, Jacob. MS. Report of the Head Curator, The Museum of Natural History, Univ. Mich., 1912.
Rogers, J. Speed. Report of the Director of the Museum of Zoology … Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1947-54.
Ruthven, Alexander G.A Naturalist in a University Museum. Ann Arbor, 1931.
Ruthven, Alexander G.Report of the Director of the Museum of Zoology. Univ. Mich., 1914-29.
University of Michigan Regents' Proceedings …, 1837-1864. Ed. by Isaac N. Demmon. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1915.
Winchell, Alexander. Report, Historical and Statistical, on the Collections in Geology, Zoölogy and Botany, in the Museum of the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor: Published by the University, 1864.