New Florida Museum book highlights the beauty and wonder of natural history collections

Courtesy of Florida Museum of Natural History


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Celebrate the splendor of natural history museums with the new book “All Things Beautiful: Wonders from the Collections of the Florida Museum of Natural History,” now available for purchase from the museum’s gift shop.

See more than 300 breathtaking color photos of plants, animals, fossils, and cultural heritage materials from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s collections. Each image is accompanied by a story, informing readers about specimens and objects as diverse as a two-headed loggerhead sea turtle, the skull of University of Florida mascot Albert the Alligator, and a 16th-century bone figa, or amulet, from the earliest Spanish settlement in North America.

“This richly illustrated book captures the immense diversity of the Florida Museum’s vast collections, highlighting some of the scientists who assembled them over the last century,” said Florida Museum director Douglas S. Jones. “Numbering more than 40 million specimens, many of which are beautiful, rare, and unique, the strength of the collections nevertheless lies in the sets of objects and specimens collected systematically over time and space that record the evolutionary relationships among organisms and track significant changes to our natural world throughout Earth’s history.”

The book is divided into 10 chapters, covering a variety of themes including the biodiversity of Florida, extinct and endangered animals, and the spirit of collecting to capture the museum’s mission of documenting all forms of life on earth. Profiles of museum curators offer unique insights into their work of building and maintaining these collections, from the challenges of working in the field to the use of new cutting-edge technologies.

“All Things Beautiful” was written by award-winning environmental journalist Heather Dewar, and the photographs were taken by Florida Museum photographer Kristen Grace.

“It is so exciting to finally see this book come to life,” Grace said. “Images play an important role in inspiring people to care about life on Earth. Perhaps the panther pelts and the story about their decline will inspire someone to get involved in conservation. Or the delicate beauty of butterfly wings seen up close sparks curiosity to study the natural world and our connection to it.”

The book was created by the Florida Museum of Natural History and produced with the generous support of Libby and Leonard Furlow and the Toomey Family Foundation for the Natural Sciences. The project was directed by Florida Museum senior associate director Beverly Sensbach, who also served as editor of the book, and it was designed by Florida Museum senior graphic designer Hollis Wooley.

“All Things Beautiful” is now available for purchase at the museum’s collectors shop and can also be ordered online at upf.com/book.asp?id=9798985935400.