As school lets out and faculty and students prepare to wind down for the summer, this is a great time to explore new opportunities and make connections. For the Museum of Southwestern Biology (MSB), these opportunities will come when they open the doors open to their biodiversity collections to the public and to the scientific community.

The MSB will resume its annual open collections tour for the public on June 14, for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This annual tour was their signature outreach event. It allows pre-registered guests to get an up-close-and-personal look at the museum’s preserved animals and plants and the research based on those materials. This year’s event is titled Evolution Revealed, an appropriate theme because the museum is a hub for evolutionary research. It is also timely because Albuquerque will host a major international conference, Evolution 2023, June 21–25, that will attract top evolutionary biologists from around the world.

At each MSB event, attendees will be invited to walk through each of the museum’s collection spaces to view pop-up exhibits that highlight evolutionary processes such as adaptation, mimicry, extinction, co-evolution, and convergence. MSB faculty and staff will be on hand to interpret specimens and explain their role in evolutionary biology. These collections are generally open only to researchers and affiliated students so this is a special opportunity to see firsthand how this internationally-recognized museum is utilized to advance a wide variety of research.

“It’s always so interesting seeing what scientists do with their study objects, I hope we can pique people’s interest with the unique examples of the various ‘products’ of evolution,” said Bre Kappel, an undergraduate student who works at the museum and is helping to organize the event.

Kappel explained that the museum hopes to use the tour as a way to show people visual evidence of evolution. The MSB supports collections-based research and works to maintain an immense database of specimens and their associated data. All of this information is searchable and accessible to the public as well as researchers throughout the world. With millions of specimens and tens of thousands of species, the MSB is a vital resource for understanding the world around us.

This same tour will also be held for attendees of the Evolution 2023 Conference on June 21. The Evolution 2023 Conference is the joint annual meeting of the American Society of Naturalists, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the Society of Systematic Biologists. The conference will be a hybrid event and will be open to professionals, postdocs, and students from around the world.

“It’s been great helping the staff prepare mini exhibits that highlight their unique knowledge about natural history and evolution,” Kappel, said. “This is a way to emphasize the importance of this museum’s role in the science world.”

In addition to all of this, the MSB is collaborating on an evening event on June 23, at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, that will be part of the Evolution 2023 conference and will feature research on evolution from both museums.

While the conference’s events are for registered attendees only, the general public will soon have an opportunity to register for the June 14 tour at the MSB’s Eventbrite page. Registration starts on May 24, at 10 a.m., and event capacity will be limited.