Collections: Natural Science Collection


The insect collection is the single largest collection in the Museum, with over 500,000 specimens. Most specimens are from Staten Island or nearby New York and New Jersey. It is an historic collection, spanning the years from the late 19th century to about 1940. About 16 orders of insects are represented, with over half of the specimens being beetles (Order Coleoptera). The bulk of the collection was assembled by William T. Davis over a span of 50-60 years, with help from his colleagues.

Important sub-collections are:

William T. Davis Collection of Cicadas
Founder William T. Davis was known as one of the world’s cicada experts in his time, and his passion led to the museum having the second largest cicada collection in the world, composed of some 35,000 specimens, and representing Davis’ life’s work. While at the Staten Island Museum, Davis formally described over one-half of the cicada species in North America. This collection contains many type specimens originally described by Davis.

Howard Notman Collection of Beetles
This collection contains over 75,000 specimens of beetles, collected and identified by a noted coleopterist of the 1920s. The collection is particularly strong in the rove beetle family (Staphylinidae), and includes numerous type specimens described by Notman.

Michael P. Zappalorti, Sr. Collection of Lepidoptera
About 2,500 specimens of butterflies and moths, many exotic, some local, collected and acquired by a local Charleston hobbyist/entomologist.