Hahn Hall of Biodiversity

Last night a members-reception was held at the museum to mark the opening of the Hahn Hall of Biodiversity, our first new permanent exhibit hall since we opened our current building three years ago. The exhibit is centered around a large collection of excellent taxodermic mounts of African mammals which were donated to VMNH by Dr. T. Marshall Hahn, Jr., President Emeritus of Virginia Tech.

The design an installation of the exhibit to more than a year of work by the VMNH exhibits staff and VMNH Curator of Mammals Dr. Nancy Moncrief. Bovids, especially antelopes, are a prominent part of the exhibit, with 26 species represented:

A representative sample of other African mammals is also included:

The exhibit text and structure focuses on morphological diversity within the Bovidae. The specimens were selected and arranged in such a way that we can easily do future enhancements to the exhibit, to allow a more detailed exploration of how phylogenetic relationships are determined, the significance of individual variation, and other evolutionary concepts.

As one final note of significance, this entire exhibit was produced using donated specimens, funds, and materials. I can’t emphasize enough how much museums depend on the generosity of their patrons both to increase the effectiveness of public education and to carry out day-to-day research and collections operations.

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5 Responses to Hahn Hall of Biodiversity

  1. Doug says:

    Looks like an awesome exhibit. Congrats on your new permanent exhibit. Were these like hunting trophies or something?

  2. Alton Dooley says:

    Most of the specimens were hunting trophies.

  3. Doug says:

    Excellent use of trophies IMHO. Is this hall a derivative of that “Documenting Diversity” idea that was in the origonal master plan?

    Also, have any pre-ice age elephants been found in Virginia?

  4. Alton Dooley says:

    You must have really scoured through our old plans! The original plans did call for a biodiversity and evolution-themed exhibit in that hallway; it was put on hold for cost reasons. So yes, the Hahn Hall is in fact the new iteration of that idea from several years ago.

    As for pre-Pleistocene elephants from Virginia, there are a few. There is a fragment of gomphothere enamel from Westmoreland County from the Calvert Formation in the Smithsonian Collection. The Smithsonian also has a cast of a gomphothere tooth from Westmoreland County that’s part of a private collection, but I don’t consider privately-held specimens to be valid for consideration (ey can’t be verified). Finally, a few weeks ago we received a donation of a partial gomphothere tooth from New Kent Co., from the Eastover Fm (I talked about this specimen in a blog entry a few weeks ago). So those two specimens ar the only museum-held pre-Pleistocene elephants from Virginia.

  5. Doug says:

    Oh yeah, whenever a museum is building anew, i always scour their site as well as the web for concept art (i am a real nut for concept art). Unfortunately, i hadn’t saved the pdf of the original exhibit plan so my only copy is the one i had originally printed out in draft.

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