By mid-July the fish and plant collections of the University of Louisiana Monroe Museum of Natural History will hopefully have a new home, according to Dr. Eric Pani, Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Several factors led to the decision to donate the collections, which have been stored in Brown Stadium since the museum was moved to Hanna Hall last year. Many of the specimens are preserved in flammable liquid and must be kept in a facility with a fire sprinkler system.
“Unfortunately, the fiscal situation facing the university over the years requires us to make choices like this. We can no longer afford to store the collections and provide all of the public services we have in the past,” Pani said.
Last week Pani told leaders of the College of Arts, Education and Sciences, which manages the museum, of the decision. He met with them again this week. He said the collections, except for some of the teaching specimens, will be donated and relocated by mid-July. The CAES people asked for 48 hours to determine if space on campus could be found and the entire collection retained.
Tuesday posts on social media could have been interpreted that the collection would be destroyed in a few hours.
Pani addressed other statements on social media, including that there would be no expansion of the museum. He clarified that expansion will be postponed for about two years while another project is underway.
The collections in Hanna Hall are open for public viewing; the specimens in Brown Stadium are for research.
Pani said renovations and improvements to the track at Brown Stadium are slated to begin in the summer. The work will raise the track to sanctioned status, allowing meets to be held there and other schools to host track and field competitions. Thus, it will provide an economic development boost for the region.
“It would be an honor for the university to donate the collection to an organization with the space to preserve and display it, and we fully expect to find such a facility as soon as possible,” Pani said.