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Museum collections are the objects (including human-made objects called artifacts) a museum holds in trust for current and future generations. Museum professionals and the leaders of their boards often refer to the care of their collections as a “sacred trust.” They recognize that there are many solemn obligations associated with accepting objects into the collections and also obligations associated with sending expeditions into the field to acquire new objects.
Museums realize that they are caretakers with a responsibility to the present as well as the future. That’s why, in overseeing collections, museums are greatly concerned with ethical issues, as well as the physical care of objects in their trust.
The objects in the Cranbrook Institute of Science (CIS) Collections are important for a variety of reasons. Often they are the basis of scientific research. Even specimens collected 100 years ago can be analyzed to answer puzzles about the world we live in today.
Researchers often use new technology to examine “old” objects in the CIS Collections, or to refine old theories and test new ones; or to answer questions about extinct or vanishing resources. They also study new “finds” collected in the field. Sometimes they compare the newly collected objects with those acquired many years ago.
Objects in the CIS Collections document the richness and complexity of the natural world; and artifacts in the CIS Collections illuminate the creative and practical applications of human effort. They (objects and artifacts) help curators formulate and illustrate theories.
The CIS Collections are more than a resource for research. They are the central feature of many CIS exhibits where they help curators tell stories to thousands of visitors each year. Over the years the same object or artifact may even help tell different stories. Sometimes these stories surprise, and sometimes they fascinate and inform. The best stories inspire us to want to learn more.
While many venues offer virtual experiences, at CIS and other collections-based museums, visitors often get to see real objects in the exhibits. Just as our lives are enriched by travel and by visiting real historical sites and natural wonders, so they are enriched by seeing real objects. At CIS one can be astonished at the detail and craftsmanship of an ancient Northwest coast basket, or delighted by the opportunity to view a seldom-seen bird up close, or marvel at the age and size a fossil skeleton as one stands next to it!
There are over 150,000 objects in the CIS Collections. During the next few years, CIS will be featuring more of them in its exhibits. Since they range from natural birds’ nests and eggs collected in southeast Michigan, to opulently jeweled turquoise and coral bird figures from India; and from feudal Japanese armor to drawers full of beetles, there will be no end of the stories they can help to tell.
Cranbrook Institute of Science publishes and disseminates work of scholarly and general interest, focusing on issues relevant to the upper Midwest.
All Institute of Science publications are available for walk-in and online purchase at the Science Shop, located in the Institute's lower lobby.
Birds of Southeast Michigan: Dearborn
Julie A. Craves
Beginning chronologically where Alice Kelley's noted 1978 work ends, Birds of Southeast Michigan: Dearborn offers an up-to-date look at bird populations for the southeast corner of the state. A compliation of data gathered in the area of the Rouge River Bird Observatory on the University of Michigan - Dearborn campus, this annotated checklist provides records for more than 240 species of resident and migratory birds plus pertinent historical data. Line drawings, charts, graphs and aerial maps included.
142 pages | ISBN: 0-87737-041-9, paper: $12.95 (1996)
Birds of Southeastern Michigan and Southwestern Ontario
Alice H. Kelley
This definitive work summarizes migration, nesting, and breeding information for over 300 species, based on data collected by the Detroit Audubon Society over the previous 30 years. Highly respected in ornithological circles, the author was a past chairperson of the society's Bird Survey Committee. "A first-rate, comprehensive regional documentation of birds..." Brent Beam, The Canadian Field Naturalist. "It begins where the field guides leave off." The Michigan Audubon.
99 pages | ISBN: 0-87737-034-6, paper: $5.95 (1978)
Honoring Our Detroit River: Caring for Our Home
John H. Hartig, Editor
With its long reputation as a polluted and degraded river in the industrial heartland, the Detroit River has been identified by the International Joint Commission as a Great Lakes Area of Concern with impaired beneficial uses. Yet the river has undergone a dramatic rehabilitation, and in July 1998 it was designated by Presidential Executive Order as one of 14 American Heritage Rivers in the United States. The Detroit River -- running 32 miles and linking Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie -- serves as an invaluable and multifaceted community resource for economic development, environmental stewardship, and historical preservation. Honoring Our Detroit River looks at key aspects of the river's history and impact on the surrounding ecosystem since its formation some 14,000 years ago. Unique environmental stories highlight the Detroit River's significant progress and help readers to learn more about this valuable resource and to care for it as their home.
288 pages | ISBN: 0-8143-3140-8, paper: $29.95 (2003)
Originally prepared as background material for interpreting exhibits at Cranbrook Institute of Science and illustrated with objects from the Institute's collections, this book is a non-technical discussion of the social and economic organization, mode of life, arts and crafts, and cermonial properties of the Iroquois Indian nation.
95 pages | ISBN: 0-87737-007-9, paper: $5.95 (1955)
Kirtland's Warbler: The Natural History of an Endangered Species
Lawrence H. Walkinshaw
The result of 50 years of field work by its author, this book contains information about the biology and behavior of Kirtland's Warbler on its breeding grounds in Michigan. It also includes painstakingly compiled life histories of individual birds and a detailed examination of the effects of cowbird parasitism on Kirtland's Warbler populations. "Mayfield's classic might well have been the last word on Kirtland's Warbler, but it wasn't...Now Larry (Walkinshaw) achieves the penultimate goal with a meticulous summary of all the data on the species..." George J. Wallace, Michigan Audubon News.
207 pages, 55 tables and 45 figures (maps, charts, graphs) ISBN: 0-87737-035-4, paper: $16.95 (1983)
Mayflies of Michigan Trout Streams
Justin W. and Fannie A. Leonard
A guide to 75 species of Michigan mayflies including life cycles, a key to species, glossary, and bibliography, Mayflies of Michigan Trout Streams describes species individually with notes on distribution, habitat, and time of emergence. Of great interest and importance to serious fly fishermen, it is "a model of what a manual dealing with a part of the local fauna should be..." T.H. Hubbell, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan.
139 pages | ISBN: 0-87737-020-6, paper: $9.95 (1962)
Julie Jones Medlin
More than 80 color plates combined with concise descriptions provide a valuable new resource for identification and study of these unique dual organisms, many of which occur well beyond the state's borders.
120 pages | ISBN: 0-87737-038-9, paper: $14.95 (1996)
Orchids of the Western Great Lakes Region
Frederick W. Case, Jr.
Designed for the amateur field botanist, this field guide covers the more than 60 species of wild orchids found in the western Great Lakes region. A complete revision and updating of this popular title first published in 1964, it contains identification keys, over 70 line drawings, 65 distribution maps, species descriptions, and ecological notes, as well as valuable information on conservation and cultivations of native orchids. Each species is illustrated with a color photograph. "...I strongly recommend this book. ...Its significance extends far beyond the region and taxa covered." C.J. Shevniak, Biological Survey of the New York State Museum.
253 pages | ISBN: 0-87737-036-2, cloth: $29.00 (1987)
An Upper Great Lakes Archaeological Odyssey
William A. Lovis, Editor
An Upper Great Lakes Archaeological Odyssey celebrates the career of Charles E. Cleland -- Michigan State University emeritus professor and curator of anthropology -- through a series of focused research papers by a distinguished sample of his friends, colleagues, and former students. All 10 papers touch on some aspect of Cleland's 35 years of research into the past and present of the indigenous peoples of the Upper Great Lakes. Collectively, these contributions demonstrate the rich diversity of both Cleland's research interests as well as the innovative directions of contemporary archaeology in the Great Lakes region. The broad range of research in this book will satisfy the eclectic in all, whether interested in ceramics and chronology, mortuary analysis, settlement and subsistence systems, the interactions of Europeans, Americans, and Native peoples during the past four centuries, the origins of indigenous horticulture, or a small piece of Upper Great Lakes archaeology.
264 pages | ISBN: 0-87737-045-1, paper: $29.95 (2004)
Wildflowers of the Western Great Lakes Region
James R. Wells; Frederick W. Case, Jr.; and T. Lawrence Mellichamp
The western Great Lakes region is home to a diverse assemblage of habitats that offers exceptional opportunities to see numerous interesting wildflowers. In an approach unique to wildflower books, Wildflowers of the Western Great Lakes Region presents more than 270 wildflower species in a full-color, coffee-table format according to the habitats in which they are most commonly found. Within the 11 habitat groupings, the species follow as closely as possible the order in which the flowers bloom in this area.
304 pages | ISBN: 0-87737-042-7, paper: $59.95 (1999)
A Field List of Birds of the Detroit-Windsor Region, by Ralph A. O'Reilly, Jr., Neil T. Kelley, and Alice H. Kelley, originally published by CIS in 1960, is now available as a PDF. Just download, print, staple, and you will be ready to go! Note: This file is nearly 10Mb in size.
The research staff of the Cranbrook Institute of Science consists of museum professionals with advanced degrees, adjunct curators from nearby universities, and dedicated volunteers.