Natural history research museums only open a small proportion of their valuable collection to the public. Millions of preparations are kept in large storage rooms away from the public gaze. However, their significance as archives of life continues to grow.
They provide important information for biodiversity and evolution research. 30 million specimens are stored in the Museums für Naturkunde in Berlin. A large proportion are preserved in the wet collection and are now accessible in one of the world’s most technically advanced collection buildings – the Wet Collection Wing. It not only sets new standards of conservation, but also makes visible through its glass walls this important scientific collection for museum visitors.
In the Wet collections, specimens from all animal groups are stored in a mixture of 70 % alcohol and 30 % water. This protects them from decay. They thus remain available for scientific research. Each specimen has a label, on which all important information relating to the object in question is recorded. Without their labels, the specimen would be scientifically worthless. In the Wet Collection one million specimens are stored in 276,000 jars, taking up 12.6 km of shelf space on three levels.