Not on display. A peek into the AMNH archives.


The American Museum of Natural History has been collecting artifacts and specimens since 1869. As of 2014, it has amassed over 33 million objects (7.5 million of which are wasps, apparently). A vast majority of the objects are preserved and stored away from the public eye, but are still used for research purposes.

To showcase a bit about what goes on behind the scenes, the museum has recently started a monthly series called Shelf Life (the first episode of which is above). Each installment is only about 5 minutes, which feels too short for how interesting their work is.

Darrel Frost, curator in the Department of Herpetology, describes nicely his take on all the objects the museum has in its archives:

"I think that scientists look at this collection differently than most people. Most of us who are actually in science have been around these things since we were in high school in some cases. So we're used to them. The wonder part of it isn't so much in the objects anymore as in the relationships and what they tell us in a sophisticated way."