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Archive for Wednesday, July 24, 1996

S NAME LENGTHENS TO INCLUDE BIODIVERSITY

July 24, 1996

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KU's Natural History Museum now has a longer name.

The Natural History Museum at Kansas University -- home to remains of the triceratops and pteranodon -- just became a mouthful.

In an effort to better capture the scope of work at the campus museum, its official name was quietly expanded to Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center.

"It is a little cumbersome and harder to remember, but more accurate," Museum Director Leonard Krishtalka said Tuesday.

Krishtalka said most people are familiar with the museum's educational programs and long-running exhibits. However, museum research on biodiversity has been lost on everyone but professionals.

"The name addition is intended to send that message to the public," he said. "There are terrific world-class scientists, students and collections behind those educational programs."

Biodiversity is the study of life on this planet -- genes to ecosystems. The food you eat and medicine you take is part of Earth's biodiversity, Kristalka said.

Last year, the museum generated $3 million in biodiversity research grants from the National Science Foundation and other agencies.

The term biodiversity will eventually become a household word, Kristalka said.

He said the name switch had been under discussion among museum staff for several months. KU officials endorsed the change, effective July 1. No state approval was required.

It will be impossible to chisel the longer name on the museum's exterior.

"This is a historic building," Kristalka said. "It's on the register of national historic buildings."

KU's museum -- one of the five largest U.S. university natural history museums -- is in Dyche Hall.

It was built at the turn of the century at the urging of Lewis Dyche, a KU faculty member and renowned explorer who designed a panorama of North American mammals still on exhibit.

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