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The threat to the collection of animal hides – and how we are going to protect them

The mammal collection of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (MfN) houses over 30,000 skins and hides of various species and sizes. Collected over the last 150 years, they play an important part in the exploration of ecosystems and biodiversity. However, these biological specimens are subject to natural degradation processes that cause the specimens to become brittle and disintegrate with increasing age. Thus, important information is lost forever to scientists. About 24,000 specimens in the MfN’S collection are already badly affected by decay. The research project described in the following is trying to understand the exact causes of the decay and to develop treatment method that will stop further disintegration. Since there are yet no standards for treatment, model treatment methods will be developed and tested. In collaboration with the ZFB - Zentrum für Bucherhaltung [Centre for Book Preservation] in Leipzig and FILK – Forschungsinstitut für Leder und Kunststoffbahnen [Research Institute on Leather and Plastic Sheeting] in Freiberg (Saxony), the preservation status of the MfN’s hide collection will be assessed and evaluated in the next two years, after which prevention measures will be developed and tested. The project is funded by DBU – Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt [German Federal Environmental Foundation].



01.01.2018 - 30.02.2020


DBU - The German Federal Environmental Foundation