About the Virtual Museum


The Virtual Museum (VM) provides the platform for citizen scientists to contribute to biodiversity projects. This innovative concept was developed by the Animal Demography Unit. For many people, a “museum” is a place to see stuffed animals on display. But the ADU’s Virtual Museum is not like this. The scientific part of a museum contains collections of specimens, frequently large numbers of specimens of the same species from different parts of the range, all carefully preserved and labelled with the date and place where they were collected. The ADU’s Virtual Museum is like this, except that instead of specimens in draws or bottles, we have digital photographs arranged in a database.

Members of the public are encouraged to submit digital photographs for the Virtual Museums listed below, along with certain basic information. Species identifications can be made by the observers, and are confirmed by a panel of experts. Distribution maps for each species are available online and serve as conservation and education tools. These maps include Virtual Museum records and sometimes also other distributional records which are contained within the ADU’s databases.

Virtual Museum records help expand the distribution databases for these taxa; they not only confirm the presence of a species at a particular point in time, but they also provide new distribution records for species and sometimes lead to extensions of the known range of a species.



VM version 2.1
Released: June 2010

Written by René A. Navarro

Implemented with open source software: mySQL and PHP


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FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology
Department of Biological Sciences - University of Cape Town
This work, except photographs, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Copyright of images uploaded into the Virtual Museum remains with the photographers.