Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929



By Edwin D. McKee

In the collection of geological material, just as with zoological, botanical, or any other, the work must be done with two equally import and yet vastly different aims in mind. The first of these aims is to provide excellent specimens for exhibit purposes, the second to gather into a study collection all of the material available which is of interest and importance. From this, it may be readily seen that almost every geological specimen which is of an unusual or fine nature (except those which have greater value in place) will find a place in a museum – though not necessarily for exhibit. The importance of a good study collection with as complete a representation as possible of various phases of the subject can scarcely be over-emphasized since it forms a background for exhibits and a basis upon which to work up the subject.

A good classification of the various phases of geology which may be represented in a collection end demonstrated in the exhibits of a museum is as follows:

1. The land forming processes as demonstrated by sedimentation, igneous activity, or metamorphism.

2. The structural features resulting from local or general earth movements.

3. The processes and results of erosion.

4. The development of stratigraphic history as represented by fossils.

To this list might be added still another group, namely “ores and minerals” which are of general interest though scarcely as significant in the story which they toll.

It may readily be seen that the groups listed above have a very definite relation one to the other and it is their combination which makes any region and its topography what we find it today. Where geological exhibition is concerned, therefore, it is clearly desirable to show this relation and thus to present a unified, definite story of the earth’s history in the region designated.

In geology, even more than in most other subjects, the necessity of excellent specimens and clear well-defined statements of their significance is extremely important. Many specimens which have great value to a geologist are merely confusing and so worth less than nothing as a demonstration to the layman. In some cases this factor may be remedied by the use of a good label.

A good introduction plays an important part in the telling of geological history. This introduction should take the form of carefully selected maps of the park itself, and of the park in its relation to larger units such as the state or country as a whole. Where possible, relief models should also be introduced in this capacity.


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