For over a century, museums have been an integral part of America's national parks. From modest beginnings in 1904 to today's state-of-the-art park museums and visitor centers, visitors have encountered engaging museums in units of the National Park Service. Museum collections are acquired through donation, field collections (such as research collecting or archeological projects), transfer, purchase, exchange or incoming loan. A Scope of Collection statement is written for each park to spell out what museum items are desired and appropriate, and what is not appropriate, for the park.
National Park Service museum collections are used in a variety of ways. In keeping with the Service's public trust responsibilities, most uses of collections are educational. The primary uses are:
- Research conducted by NPS and non-NPS scientists, historians, archeologists, ethnographers and other specialists.
- Publications that the park or others produce. Each year, photographs and/or descriptions of NPS museum objects appear in numerous articles, books, and other publications.
- Exhibits in NPS museums and visitor centers, as well as loans to non-NPS museums for special exhibitions.
- Educational programs at the park, schools, or other public venues.
- Media products, such as documentaries (motion pictures, television, and radio), web sites, pod casts, and virtually any other media format.
The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve museum collection currently contains over 270,000 items. This includes archeological objects, history objects, natural history specimens (primarily a herbarium collection), archives and photographs. Finding aids are available for selected collections in the museum archives. Cataloging of the collections is still in progress. The Museum Curator coordinates cataloging and preservation of specimens and data collected under research permits and ARPA (Archeological Resources Protection Act) permits issued in the Timucuan Preserve. All specimens collected inside the park are the property of the U.S. Government and become part of the museum collection. All collectors have curatorial responsibilities for the specimens and data collected. Museum collections are available to researchers for study, per the museum access and use policy. Researchers interested in learning more about the Timucuan museum collections should contact the Museum Curator.