Fernald Hall Zoological Museum

Title

Fernald Hall Zoological Museum

Subject

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Description

In 1886, the administration of the Massachussetts Agricultural College (MAC) appointed Dr. Charles Henry Fernald, one of the most distinguished experts in entomology and zoology, as a professor of zoology and lecturer in the Veterinary Sciences Department. At the time, he had very little material equipment for research and teaching. Fernald set up two rooms in South College, primarily dedicated to his work in zoology and profound interest in entomology. One of the rooms was used for lectures, and the other housed the Natural History Museum, full of general zoological specimens and insects that acted as the precursor to the Fernald Hall Zoological Museum in the 1900s.

Then in 1885, the Old South building, the location of Fernald’s department, burned down. Specimens from the museum were rushed hurriedly out of the building and stored in the attic of the Drill Hall for temporary housing. In disarray, the specimens were kept there until 1887, when Professor Fernald was appointed head entomologist of the growing Zoological and Entomological Department of MAC. An experiment station, now known as the Insectary, was established as the prime location for zoological experiments and to house some of the museum specimens.

By the first decade of the 1900s, zoological and entomological studies at the Massachusetts Agricultural College soared. Increasing interest in the study of zoology meant that the building used for zoological study at the time, the Insectary, was no longer able to accommodate the number of students coming into the department. The school administration attempted to build extensions to the Insectary, but it remained too small for the student body of the Zoological Department. Simultaneously, the growth of the university’s collection of entomological and zoological specimens seemed to reflect the rapid and extreme increase of the student body. Both of these factors pressured the administration to find a more suitable building arrangement for the Zoological Department’s laboratories and lecture rooms. The trustees of the college rose to the occasion in 1908, pouring roughly $80,000 into the development of a new building for entomological and zoological studies. Located slightly north of the Insectary, the trustees dedicated the new building, now called Fernald Hall, on November 11, 1910.

The south wing of Fernald Hall housed a 27 by 48 foot area allotted to the Zoological Museum, the descendent of the Natural History Museum in the Old South Building. On the first floor, the main room held eight large wall cases and five large floor cases for display, and three adjacent rooms consisted of experiment stations and rooms for the curator. A gallery made up the second floor of the museum, with an adjoining lecture room and graduate level zoology laboratory. The gallery maintained one large wall case and two large floor cases, and space remained for 10 additional cases since the area was only partially complete. While the museum focused on zoology and entomology, it also possessed a geological exhibit, which was placed in the basement portion of the museum. The museum collection represented specimens from all chief phyla, but emphasized those of North American origins. For the most part, the museum collection contained entomological samples, but also a wide variety of zoological and geological samples as well. These collections were meant to illustrate classroom principles, and were therefore commonly used in the studies of entomological, zoology, and geological students. Overall, the collection stored approximately 12,000 specimens in the total sixteen cases filled. Frequently, friends and alumni of the college donated gifts to the museum. This collection was useful for students, but the public as well. As of 1912, the Zoological Museum was open to public from 3-5pm on weekdays and 1-5 pm on Saturdays.

Creator

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Source

UMass Special Collections and University Archives

Publisher

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Date

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Contributor

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Rights

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Relation

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Format

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Language

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Type

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Identifier

RG160-0006996

Coverage

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Original Format

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Physical Dimensions

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Files

RG160-0006996.png
Date Added
November 13, 2012
Collection
Orchard Hill
Item Type
Still Image
Citation
“Fernald Hall Zoological Museum ,” Lost UMass, accessed July 29, 2017, http://lostumass.omeka.net/items/show/59.