Exhibit reveals science history in Dyche Hall
Collections on display for centennial celebration
Research collections of the world’s animals and plants that span
the past 100 years—and the discoveries they generated—are
featured in a new temporary exhibit at the Natural History Museum.
“Life in Dyche: A Century of Science” commemorates the 1903
completion of Dyche Hall, the signature building of the KU museum. Most
of the exhibited specimens are on display to the public for the first
time. They have been handpicked from the museum’s inventory of about
7 million plant and animal specimens used for research and education on
the origin and nature of life on earth.
Plants and animals collected for research purposes are prepared and conserved
in very different ways from those intended for display. Visitors will
see beautiful translucent frogs, fish, snakes, salamanders and lizards:
Their tissues are transparent and their bones and cartilage dyed red and
blue so scientists can study the anatomy of the skeletons. Visitors can
learn how botanists study plant specimens that are folded, pressed, dried
and glued to boards to understand the plants’ structure and evolutionary
Among the oldest animals in the exhibit are a walrus and a narwhal from
an 1895 expedition to Greenland led by Lewis Lindsay Dyche, after whom
Dyche Hall was named. Dyche was an early 20th-century explorer, scientist
and taxidermist who was a curator and faculty member at KU. The oldest
plant in the exhibit is an oxeye daisy collected by KU’s first chancellor,
Francis Huntington Snow, before he came to the university. Snow, an avid
entomologist and naturalist, started the museum’s collection of
insects, some of which also are in the exhibit.
Dyche Hall is one of the university’s most recognizable buildings.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building houses
the museum’s public exhibits and several research divisions. Other
research divisions and collections are housed in Snow Hall, Lindley Hall,
Lippincott Hall, Haworth Hall and the R.L. McGregor Herbarium on West