Storage is one of the most important things about a collection as it facilitates access and helps to keep the collection in good order. That storage has to be flexible, as collections can change over time with new additions, and allow people to keep an eye on things quickly and easily. It also keeps the collection safe, by protecting it from harmful environmental factors such as dust and ultraviolet light, which can fade specimens over time, just like the back of a sofa that’s been left in the sun for many years.
Collections need to be ordered in a way which makes it most useful to the people that access it. If you have a collection that is primarily accessed by researchers then it will be arranged taxonomically. Taxonomy is a scientific word which basically stands for the tree of life and by looking at the tree you can see how things are related to one another, for instance, did you know that we share 57% of our DNA with chickens?
Our collection at Leeds Discovery Centre is mostly accessed by our education and public engagement team so we have organised our collection into 7 themes – colour, geography, types of beak, types of feet, kinds of flight, British birds and birds of prey/insectivores. This helps when they are showing the collection to the public as things are grouped in a simple way that can provide quick, basic information.