Butterflies featured at Museum of Natural History Collections open house

Free event for UCSC and Santa Cruz community includes identification of local mushrooms along with displays of fungi collected from the UCSC campus

(Poster design by Jim MacKenzie)
A portion of the extensive collection of butterflies gathered and donated by UCSC math professor Gerhard Ringel.
The fungus Hygrocybe punicea gathered on the UC Santa Cruz campus.

The extraordinary collection of butterflies at the UC Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History Collections will be on display when the museum holds it second-ever open house.

The free event is set for Sunday, December 5 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in adjacent rooms 229, 233, and 221 in the Natural Sciences II and Interdisciplinary Sciences building, both next to the Science and Engineering Library. 

This second open house will be even bigger than the first held in July, said Chris Lay, the museum's director and curator.  In particular, Lay plans to showcase the museum's collection of more than 5,000 butterflies and moths donated by UCSC mathematics professor Gerhard Ringel.

A mini fungus fair is also planned with fresh specimens of fall and winter mushrooms collected from campus. Experts will be on hand to help attendees hone their mushroom identification skills, and visitors are encouraged to bring samples for identification. 

A newly published mini-guide to mushrooms on campus will be for sale, along with campus natural history books, custom-made butterfly prints, and t-shirts.

Hundreds of other specimens from other collections of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, and amphibians will also be on display.

The UCSC natural history collections are mainly organized for research and classroom use, not public display.  Lay said the open house is an opportunity for UCSC students and community members to see the collections, learn more about local natural history, and get a "behind-the-scenes" sense of how a natural history museum operates.

The collections were established in 1994 as part of UCSC's Environmental Studies Department and document the natural history of the campus, the UC Natural Reserves, and the Santa Cruz mountains region.