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Arden Ambrose-Winters ’20, a Biology and Art History double major, is in her third year of working for the Joseph Moore Museum and will play a role in the upcoming project.

Grant to fund massive digitization of Joseph Moore Museum’s bug collection

January 08, 2019

New funding secured by Earlham College’s Joseph Moore Museum will support a three-year project resulting in a digital database of the museum’s 35,000 insect specimens in its collection.

The museum is the recipient of a $197,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that will cover the cost of buying equipment and supporting up to 10 paid student worker positions to assist in photographing and organizing the massive collection.

“Our students are the real winners of this grant,” says Ann-Eliza Lewis, the collections manager at Joseph Moore Museum. “For us to be able to hire 10 students every term for three years, to really train them in what is the current standard for digitization, is incredibly valuable to their education. All of the world’s best museums are doing this.”

The digitization process requires the use of high-powered cameras and software to document and organize the collection, resulting in dozens of detailed images and cross sections of each specimen. The digital database will be accessible to scientists from around the world.

Arden Ambrose-Winters ’20, a Biology and Art History double major, is in her third year of working for the museum and will play a role in the upcoming project.

“I have been involved in a variety of projects in different parts of the museum while I have worked here, but working with the collections has been my favorite,” Ambrose-Winters says. “This grant most excites me because it means our insects will get better care and use than they have in the past. I think we have some pretty cool things and know the rest of the world will, too!

“A significant portion of this work is like being a detective. We have to figure out where something came from and how it got there, which is really fun,” she says. “The grant also gives me more opportunity to understand how collection management works and what sort of decisions have to be made.”

This is the second time since 2014 that the museum has secured funding from the IMLS to support digitization projects. The previous grant resulted in a multi-year digitization project of the mammal, ornithology and herpetology collections.

“These projects are all critical in advancing our goals of providing transformative experiential learning opportunities for our students that inspire and support self-directed learning,” says Heather Lerner, JMM director. “This project also brings us closer to preserving all of our incredible collections and ensuring that people from across the world can learn from our vast resources.”

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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. We rank 7th nationally by Princeton Review for Best Classroom Experience and 22nd by U.S. News and World Report for commitment to undergraduate teaching.

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.


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