DescriptionThe Coral Collection is divided into two parts, fossilized corals and non-fossilized corals. The two distinct collections are stored, cataloged, and exhibited separately.
Fossilized corals are ancient specimens that have turned into rock over the long span of geologic time. These specimens were collected from all over the world as well as locally (a Petoskey Stone is a good example of a local fossilized coral). There are several specimens of fossilized coral on display in the “F is for Fossils” exhibit.
Non-fossilized corals are specimens that were collected from the modern world’s oceans, usually while they were alive. The Public Museum has about 30 boxes of this type of coral in its collection. A few specimens of coral are displayed in the “Z is for Zoology” and “Kent Scientific Institute” exhibits at the VAMC. The collection contains a variety of stony and soft coral species, in many different sizes, shapes, colors, and conditions.
The majority of the Public Museum’s collection of coral was probably acquired in the early 1900s. Monthly reports from Director H. E. Sargent in 1908 mention that:
The installation work on the Steere Collection of corals has been completed, the collection being ready for permanent labeling. This collection together with the few corals which were in the Museum before acquiring this, occupy the entire room which will in the future be known as the coral room.
A list of the “Valuation of Museum Collections” compiled the following year gives a figure of 1200 corals in the collection at an estimated value of $2000. Together these two clues suggest the Public Museum acquired the majority of its coral collection before 1908, and had inventoried and displayed it by 1909.