Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/42

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

have for the most part remained separate from the older of them. Perhaps the chief reason why the universities and museums have kept apart is the character of their work; natural science in a museum consists largely in accumulation of collections and in descriptive research, in the university in experimental science. This makes up the essential difference between the curator, on the one side, and the laboratory worker on the other; or, in other words, between the classifier and the experimenter. And it is curious to note that laboratories arose first quite apart from both museum and university, in the private houses of men of analytic mind; one needs only recall the names of Roger Bacon, Vesalius, Galileo, Harvey and, in modern times, Darwin. And those who were interested in comparative anatomy and physiology were at the beginning for the most part private physicians. As this work gained in importance they moved naturally to those institutions that offered the greater facilities for that kind of pursuit, consequently to the universities.

This has been the merest historical sketch of the connection of museums with other learned associations, while the subject is one of sufficient interest to fill a volume and then be far from exhausted. But it will have to suffice for our present purpose.

Now let us see the present ramifications of our institutions of natural history, and limit ourselves to the subjects of biology and geology. Of these there are, in the first place, the general academies, which may be characterized as being broad in subject, and open to all who are interested, to layman as well as to investigator. The latter quality is a particularly valuable possession, by virtue of which became associated in common interests many people who would find themselves alien in a more specialized association; for the specialist's research is largely dependent, at least in America, upon the gifts of amateurs, and all specialists are recruited from the ranks of amateurs. Probably the amateurs who are drawn to an academy by their natural tastes make better members than those who have chosen their calling after deliberation. The academies publish "proceedings" which include the most diverse subjects. Then there are museums, frequently associated with such academies, less usually with universities. Their primary object is the conservation of collections, and they have the same relation to natural history specimens as libraries have to books. The greater of them are reference collections where one goes to find the original specimens of descriptions. Their curators are men whose writing is largely limited to the materials of such collections and to the theoretical ideas based on such material. For the most part these museums now separate their reference and exhibition collections, and devote much thought to the most suitable presentation of the latter, following Huxley's thought that an exhibition collection should not aim to show all its