University of Wisconsin–Madison

$355,000 Grant Awarded by NSF’s Collections in Support of Biological Research

“Critical Upgrades, Expansion, and Reorganization of the Wisconsin State Herbarium (WIS)”

With a collection of >1.2 million preserved plant specimens, The Wisconsin State Herbarium (WIS) at the UW-Madison ranks among the top 1% of the world’s largest and most active herbaria.  Unfortunately, the herbarium reached its carrying capacity decades ago, despite the fact that its holdings continue to grow, and its facilities are now overcrowded, inadequate for maintaining curatorial standards of specimen storage, and unable to provide full public access.  For example, the mechanized compactor holding 476 cabinets of flowering plants has failed and cannot be repaired.

Critical upgrades have now taken place on both floors of the herbarium; its 30-year old motorized compactor system on the main floor has been modified into a new manual system, and a new high-density mobile storage system and associated cabinets were recently installed in the herbarium’s newly acquired second floor.  These enhancements will allow for consolidation of collections scattered throughout the building, their proper safekeeping, but also expansion of the collection, especially among its exceptional algae, fungi, lichens, and mosses.  A reorganization of the entire herbarium collection will follow this expansion into new space, including adoption of the contemporary DNA-based system of plant classification, which is now taught in all formal university courses on campus.

Learn More about WIS’ Expansion on UW’s MadScience Blog

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