Museum Sciences

poi_gauteng_transvaal_museumMuseums offer a wide variety of opportunities for zoologists interested in research, curation and education. Most museum zoologists collect, preserve, document, maintain, and study valuable animal collections. Studies mostly focus on the diversity of animals and their relationships with one another (called systematics). This discipline focuses on determining unique characteristics of species and higher taxa, what features taxa have in common with one another and what biological causes underpin differences and shared characters. The systematist is also interested in describing and assessing variation within and between taxa and is concerned with speciation, evolution, the structure of natural animal populations and biogeography. These aspects of museum science, in collaboration with museum exhibition staff, are presented in interpretive displays for the pleasure and education of the visiting public.

Most zoologists employed in museums are specialists in mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, molluscs (malacologists), insects, or fossils (palaeontologists). Some may even specialise is specific insect groups like moths and butterflies (lepidopterists) or beetles (coleopterists).

Due to the increasing call on museums to act as consultants and to do contract research for commercial companies, contract positions in various specialist fields are also sometimes available at museums. For the zoologist who is not interested in research, museums offer employment as collection managers, education officers, public relations officers, exhibition officers, and artists.

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