AC NEWS


College's Natural History Museum is teeming with exotic specimens

by Joe Wyatt
Published January 31, 2019

Tucked away in the northernmost portion of Amarillo College’s Ordway Hall is a veritable swarm of globally collected insects – and droves of exotic mounted mammals, big-game fish and birds of prey.

 

AC’s uniquely own Natural History Museum invites everyone to have a look at its many wonders of wildlife, and admission is free.

 

The museum on AC’s Washington Street Campus is open from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays.

 

For every visitor wowed by the bounteous butterfly collection, another is enchanted by an up-close encounter with a bald eagle, a hammerhead shark, or a Cape buffalo out of Africa.

 

There’s a sprinkling of other collections, too – skulls, pelts, age-old eggs.

 

“We are one of the only community colleges anywhere with a museum of this kind, certainly of this quality, and we’re lucky to have it,” said Dan Porter, professor of biology and museum curator. “It’s a definite fire-starter for knowledge and education.

 

“We have a complete exhibit of butterflies from all around the world – morphos from South America, birdwings from New Guinea. We also have a lot of African specimens that are mammals, from the Cape buffalo to the greater kudu.”

 

AC owes its Natural History Museum to the late Richard Howard, a member of the biology faculty whose extensive insect-collecting expeditions took him the world over. His enviable stockpile, particularly the butterflies, became the basis for the museum back in the mid-1970s.

 

Over the years, Porter has obtained many grants that either helped grow the collections or expand the museum’s services. Safari Club International, for example, donated not only the African mammal collection, but contributed funds for the expansion necessary to house it.

 

Porter personally has delivered innumerable natural history programs at area schools and has conducted countless tours of the museum for folks of all ages, but especially for kids.

 

“You never really know what will light a fire under kids,” Porter said. “I believe the more we expose them to the marvels of science, wonders like the eight-inch Goliath butterfly or one of the largest beetles in the world, the Titanus giganteus, the better our chances are of sparking an interest in learning.”

 

To for more information about the Natural History Museum, or to inquire about tours, please email Dan Porter at daporter@actx.edu.


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