Natural History Collections
The National Museum of the Philippines houses the largest national repository of botanical/plant collection in the country, the Philippine National Herbarium (PNH) at the Botany Division. Founded in the early 1900s as the Herbarium of the Bureau of Science with Dr. E. D. Merrill as Director, it used to be one of the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia. It also boasted a science library that was larger than some of the scientific institutions and universities in the United States at that time. The prestige that the herbarium had became history when it was turned into ashes during World War II. Immediately after the war, however, under the directorship of Dr. Eduardo Quisumbing, the collections of the PNH had once again been slowly built up when herbaria in Europe and the United States returned some of their duplicate holdings to form the core collection of the present PNH. The plant collections of the PNH are a result of collecting activities in the country in the last century as well as of the exchange programs with other herbaria here and abroad. Some of the earliest collections dating back to the late 18th and 19th century are still being maintained here.
One of the primary functions of the Geology Division of the National Museum is to undergo basic and systematic studies on Petrology, Mineralogy and Paleontology with the aim of dissemination of knowledge and promotion of the growth of the natural science. It also aims to establish and maintain adequate reference collection of Philippine rocks, minerals and fossils through collection, exchange or donation.
The Philippine archipelago shelters an exceptional array of land and water animals, mostly found nowhere else. A number of these unique animals are now severely threatened and are facing extinction while a few are already extinct. To keep a record of the Philippine fauna, the National Museum holds a vast collection of these animal specimens from all over the archipelago. These animal specimens which had been acquired for the last century had become an integral part of the Philippine natural history. The very first survey and collecting expedition was conducted in December 1901 in the islands of Mindoro, Cagayan de Sulu, Palawan, Cuyo, and Culion. Unfortunately, those irreplaceable specimens of birds, mammals and fishes were destroyed during World War II. Some of the animals included in this guide are very old and date back during the early part of the 1900ís. The Zoology Reference Collection of the National Museum has a total holding of 337,983 catalogued specimens. Birds have 19,465 catalogued specimens; Mammals have 4,342; Crustaceans and Decapod have 56,321; Herps (Reptiles and Amphibians) have 5,087; Insects have 43,600; the Shells have 153,831; Polychaetes have 8,957; Corals have 5,252; the Echinoderms have 22,467; Fishes have 16,461; and Sponges have 2,200 specimens catalogued.