In our continuing saga about the crumbling LSU campus, we look at Foster Hall, just north of the Middleton Library.
Foster Hall houses the LSU Museum of Natural Science. According to its website, the museum’s mission “is acquisition, preservation, and study of research collections by Museum faculty, staff, students and associates to generate knowledge of global biodiversity and human prehistory, to promote an understanding and appreciation of nature through excellence in science education for the benefit of the people of the state, the nation, and the world.”
The museum also houses the stuffed remains of the first Mike the Tiger, a major attraction for school groups and others. It’s a hidden wonder of Baton Rouge and LSU. You could pass several delightful hours taking in its extensive collections.
I knew about this remarkable museum as a child living in Beaumont, Texas. You see, the museum was then the home of one of its founders and one of my heroes, Dr. George Lowery, the author of the magnificent ornithology book, Louisiana Birds. I still treasure the letter I received from Lowery sometime in the late 1960s, after I wrote him a fan letter.
The museum houses a world-class collection of bird specimens. According the museum’s website, its bird collection “(more than 178,000 specimens) is the third-largest university-based collection in the world (behind Harvard and Berkeley). The museum’s holdings of birds from Peru, Bolivia, the West Indies, and the Southeastern United States are the largest in the world, and the collection is among the 5-10 largest in the world from Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, and Argentina. The collection contains 140,000 skins, 22,000 complete skeletons, 8,000 fluid-preserved specimens, 12,000 stomach-content samples, and thousands of tape-recordings of bird vocalizations.”
This important collection can also be lost if Foster Hall is not properly maintained. And it’s not. Among other problems, the ceiling leaks. The photographs below were taken on Thursday by a faculty member at the museum.
Today, Mike I is threatened. Next week, it could be the museum’s valuable bird collection.
Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to LSU’s pollen collection. That collection is not housed in Foster Hall. I regret the error.