GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 41-10
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


CLARY, Renee M., Geosciences, Mississippi State University, P.O. Box 1705, Mississippi State, MS 39762 and MOE HOFFMAN, Amy, Geosciences, Mississippi State University, Box 5448, Mississippi State, MS 39762,

The Dunn-Seiler Museum is a small, traditional museum housed in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University. Founded in 1946 to preserve and care for the extensive geologic collections of the faculty and students, the museum holdings contain approximately 50,000 fossils, including holotypes and considerable Cretaceous collections. The public display space includes mineral, rocks, karst, and meteorite exhibits, with the majority of displays dedicated to fossils, arranged primarily in order of geologic time.

In the first stage of the Dunn-Seiler’s history, the museum’s role was to store the research specimens, and display some of the geological objects within the university setting. The museum then transitioned to present specimens using best practices in informal learning for effective geoscience education and improved public geoliteracy of museum visitors. While general earth science literacy principles are addressed, many museum displays also focus upon the local Cretaceous landscape and the commonly found fossils in the area.

Within the last decade, the museum further expanded its presence beyond its display space to include additional informal learning opportunities. Our participation with US National Fossil Day, Earth Day network, Darwin Day, and Cargo for Conservation also ensures that the museum capitalizes on the resources available at the national level. Through our museum displays, public events, and K-12 art, story, and recycling competitions, we address biodiversity, extinction, geologic time, evolution, and conservation—promoting public geoliteracy in language respectful to the local community. Therefore, the Dunn-Seiler Museum now successfully bridges two communities: the research of faculty scientists, and the public’s general understanding of earth products, events, and concerns. While the museum’s role at the forefront of geology was initially in its storage and display of research specimens, its role has expanded to communicate geology for improved public understanding.