Scientific collections

The collections of the Museum of Genoa comprise upwards of 4.5 million specimens collected since the mid-19th century.

All the specimens stored in the Museum bear a label with the relevant collection data: origin, date and collector. For their conservation, zoological specimens are treated with different procedures, based on their group. Most invertebrates, fish, amphibians and reptiles are kept in ethanol at 70% in glass jars, hermetically sealed to prevent evaporation. Insects are pinned or, in the case of smaller ones, glued to special paper boards. By contrast, birds and mammals are kept dry, either skin prepared via stuffing or “mounted” so as to reproduce their life-like posture and state. Finally, the preparation of skeletons consists in the excarnation, maceration or boiling until the bones are clean and whitened.

Over the years, this enormous heritage has been the subject of investigation for Curators and external researchers for systematic and taxonomic studies. Dozens of Italian and foreign scholars annually visit our laboratories for either short or long periods of time, sometimes even for weeks, with the aim to compare our “historical” collections with their own more recent specimens, to identify undefined material and to improve the knowledge of the morphological traits and distribution areas of various species, thanks to the specimens of the Museum.

The Museum is famous all over the world also for the large number of “types”, amounting to over 15,000. These are the specimens used by researchers to describe a new species. Their consultation is indispensable to anyone wishing to conduct in-depth research into systematic zoology.

- mammals

- birds

- reptiles and amphibians

- fishes

- insects

- invertebrates

- plants

- fossils

- minerals and rocks