Collection Databases

Four collection database systems are currently in use at the BNHM; two are developed inhouse while two are collaborative efforts with external partners. In addition, all collection data are available through global distribution portals such as VertNet (MVZ), GBIF (all), and iDigBio (all). Read more about them here in alphabetical order:

Arctos Collection Database

Arctos is both a community and a comprehensive collection management information system. As a community, it is a collaboration among multiple scientific collections that serves data on over 3M natural history museum records. Approximately half of those records are in a shared instance hosted at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (view institutions and holdings). The remaining specimens and collections are in MCZBase, a single instance at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University. This is the primary collection database for the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.


CollectionSpace was developed by a network of North America and European partner organizations led by Museum of the Moving Image in New York, which originated the project, and the University of California, Berkeley. The program continues to be generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This is the primary collection database for the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, UC & Jepson Herbaria and the UC Botanical Garden.

The Essig Database is an ongoing effort to document the extensive holdings of the museum. A species list of the entire pinned collection, and parts of the slide and fluid collections (>50,000 records), is available for querying, as are over 250,000 specimen-level records, including the Primary Type Collection (1,221 specimens), Odonata, Ephemeroptera, Aphididae and Reduviidae (Hemiptera), Siphonaptera, and parts of the Coleoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Trichoptera, and Araneae (Arachnida). An additional 300,000+ images of specimen labels waiting to be transcribed are also searchable by genus and species names. Localities for most California records have been georeferenced and distribution maps can be generated. The database is developed and maintained by the BNHM.

UCMP database banner

UCMP Collection Database has the largest paleontological collection of any university museum in the world. These well-curated and computerized collections include fossil and modern organisms representing prokaryotes to vertebrates collected from all continents. The Museum serves the University community in various research projects and provides support for instruction at Berkeley and other UC campuses. In addition, the collections are used by paleontologists, biologists and geologists throughout the world. The database is developed and maintained by the BNHM.