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size erected solely for biological teaching and investigation, and it has up to the present time been followed by only two laboratories, in eastern colleges at least the University of Pennsylvania and the College of New Jersey. In each of these arrangements are made for elementary as well as for advanced work.
It has been long recognized that a museum is necessary for the work of teaching no less than research, and yet there is perhaps no point in regard to which opinions have more changed than the character of collections necessary for undergraduate work. Most of the institutions of the country report that they have collections of greater or less size. In the detailed statements of chapter II these have been described as fully as possible, and nothing need be here repeated.
If any general criticism may be made upon the college museums of the country it is that they are unnecessarily large for the work of teaching, and not large enough for research. The museums of the past were looked upon too largely as curiosities. They were expected to furnish entertainment rather than instruction. They contained too much useless material. Arrangement was usually conspicuous from its absence. It seemed to be the ambition of many colleges to bring together large collections rather than those possessing educational value.
At present there is a striking tendency to change in this respect and bring together smaller but carefully arranged collections. Indeed, on looking into the subject it is surprising to see how little will answer the purpose of instruction if it is properly selected.
To select a conspicuous example, the Johns Hopkins University possesses a museum which is contained in one small room. It includes a number of specimens which would be regarded as small, judged by common standards, and yet every animal subkingdom is represented by a sufficient number of specimens to give the student who studies it a fair idea of the animal kingdom as a whole. It contains a sufficient number of skeletons to make a thorough study of comparative osteology possible, and it also contains many representatives of the lower invertebrates, the number in each case depending in part upon the size of the group, and in part upon the amount of variation in form found within its limits.
This fact is not without its significance, for it indicates a disposition on the part of a prominent institution, possessed of ample means, to spend as little as possible upon collections, leaving more to be invested in a working outfit. It should be borne in mind, too, that the courses, being elective, are fuller than those commonly given through the country, and consequently make greater demands upon the collections for illustration.
Professor Spalding, of the University of Michigan, writes:
The time and thought of the botanical department for the last 10 years has been given to the development of biological instruction rather than to increasing collections. Here again the courses are elective and correspondingly full,
The museum of Cornell University is a notable collection of rare and interesting, as well as instructive, forms, and yet Professor Wilder writes in “Science:
Instead of vainly attempting to obtain and exhibit all the species of all the groups, most educational museums would attain more satisfactory results by selecting the more interesting or instructive forms for all classes, and limiting their efforts to complete groups for a few upon which, as well as upon a large number, may be illustrated the principles of classification and of individual and geographical variation.
The same principle is recognized in the arrangement of the Agassiz Museum, in which synoptic rooms are everywhere provided, these being the rooms which are recognized as having the greatest educational value.
Enough has been said to show that at present small collections are coming to be regarded as sufficient for the ordinary work of instruction. There are but few educational institutions that can afford to keep up large collections for the entertainment or instruction of the public.
Such collections can only be maintained by government aid or by other special means. Indeed, although it is somewhat foreign to our subject, it seems likely that at the present time the value of such collections is overestimated, for with educational systems constituted as they now are, the public at large are totally unfit to receive the real benefit which they should derive from this source.
This was fully recognized inany years ago. Professor Forbes in a lecture before the Royal School of Mines, delivered in 1853, speaks as follows:
Museums of themselves alone are powerless to educate. But they can instruct the educated, and excite a desire for knowledge in the ignorant. The laborer who spends his holiday in a walk through the British Museum can not fail to come away with a strong and reverential sense of the extent of knowledge possessed by his fellow men. It is not the objects themselves that he sees there and wonders at that make this impression so much as the order and evident science, which he can not but recognize, in the manner in which they are grouped and arranged.
It is not the ignorant only who may benefit in the way just indicated. The socalled educated are as likely to gain by a visit to a museum, where their least cultivated faculties, those of observation, may be healthily stimulated and brought into action. The great defect of our systems of education is the neglect of the educating of the observing powers--a very distinct matter, be it noted, from scientific instruction.
When we consider the needs of the investigator in either systematic botany or zoology, we see that they are much more extensive than the work of teaching requires. So far is this true that there are but few museums or herbaria connected with colleges that are large enough to satisfy the requirements. Large size is here a necessity, and yet we find that the difficulty of collecting and the expense of preserving, especially animal forms, are so great as to be beyond the reach of more than five or six of our American colleges.
This fact early became evident to the trustees of the Agassiz Museum. In their report for 1875 the following statement occurred:
The great difficulty in preserving alcoholic collections, the unpleasant nature and enormous expense of the work, make it imperative, not only for storage but still more for exhibition purposes, that they should be restricted to a minimum and limited, as far as possible, to those classes where no other mode of preservation is practicable. The constantly increasing facilities of travel, the comparative economy with which fresh specimens can be studied, the superiority of such work (with proper appliances) to that of the museum, the daily increasing number of workers who are able, on the seashore or in the field, to produce results unattainable by museum study alone, show that the time has come when large collections must naturally be supplemented by zoölogical stations. These, when once established at properly selected localities, will enable museums to dispense with much that is now exceedingly costly. They will become, for certain departments at least, chiefly depositories where the record of work done at the stations—the archives of natural science, so to speak—will be preserved, so that while their usefulness for the general instruction of the public and of our higher institutions will not be diminished, they must hereafter be useful to the original investigator in a somewhat more limited field.
Only in comparatively recent times has the tremendous importance of the bearing of the invertebrates upon the general questions of biology been appreciated. We have seen that some work was done upon these animals at an early date, when the minds of workers were not much troubled by theoretical considerations, but the study of the adult forms is so small a part of a real understanding of these animals that it was unsatisfactory work, and never became popular among investigators until embryological methods had been introduced.
Dr. Brooks has remarked that "nearly every one of the great generalizations of morphology is based upon the study of marine animals, and most of the problems which are now awaiting a solution must be answered in the same way."* Wefind the reason for this in the fact that the biology of the present day is a study of vital phenomena and of natural laws governing living things. The importance of the invertebrates depends, therefore, upon the fact that in them life exists under simplified conditions, affording opportunities for the study of questions for which higher forms are, with our present knowledge, too complex.
As the study of invertebrates has extended, it has become more and more desirable to have more favorable conditions for this work, more abundant facilities for collecting and opportunities for studying animals alive. Much of the early work was done upon specimens collected and stored in museums, but workers, both in this country and Europe, had frequently made excursions to the seacoast for the purpose of studying the invertebrate forms constituting so large a part of the marine fauna.
The unsatisfactory nature of this work was of course evident. Suitable accommodations and working appliances could not be provided under these circumstances, and desirableness of establishing permanent seaside laboratories was early felt. Nothing was done, however, in this country until 1871, when John Anderson, a wealthy citizen of New York, presented to Professor Agassiz the island of Penikese in Buzzard's Bay, together with the sum of $50,000 with which to found a seaside station for the study of marine life. Another friend gave him a yacht of 80 tons burden for use in collecting. Agassiz had long wished for such a laboratory, and no one but himself could have aroused the necessary enthusiasm for carrying out the project. He soon set to work and built large laboratories, with suitable accommodations for a large number of workers. In 1873 they were opened for work. This constituted the first opportunity enjoyed by American students of studying marine animals in their native waters, with proper appliances for work. It inaugurated a new era in scientific research, being the first outward expression of an idea which has since taken a firm hold upon the investigators of the country. The death of Agassiz in December, 1873, put an end to the project. The buildings were used but two seasons and then abandoned.
* Johns Hopkins University Circulars, vol. 6, p. 37.
Of this laboratory Professor Whitman says:
At the close of the second and last season at Penikese, in 1874, Alexander Agassiz appealed to the colleges and all interested boards of education for support; but all in vain, for not a single favorable reply was received, and so his intention to remove the laboratory to Wood's Holl was never carried out. Thus that great and memorable undertaking, after absorbing money enough to build and equip a most magnificent laboratory, was abandoned from lack of interest on the part of educational institutions rather than of means. Such a failure, it must be frankly confessed, is not one to inspire confidence, but its explanation removes the apparent grounds for discouragement. It was the marvelous personality of Professor Agassiz that made Penikese a possibility. It was his magic influence that created that school, his commanding individuality that organized and vitalized it. All interests centered in him so completely that with his sudden removal the enterprise was left without a soul. The school had no coherency except in his magnetic power and intellectual strength, and the moment these elements of stability were withdrawn, collapse followed as a natural and inevitable consequence. Then, too, it should be remembered that Professor Agassiz lived just long enough to demonstrate the impracticability of maintaining such a school in such a locality, but unfortunately not long enough to convince the scientific world of its utility. The school was an experiment; its master was stricken down before it could be fairly tested, and the times were not ripe for it.
The establishment of this laboratory was an event of the greatest significance because of its bearings upon the history of education. Not only was Penikese the first biological station established in this country, and, indeed, in the world, but it was the beginning of the summer-school movement which has spread so generally over the country, and which, it should be noted, began with original research and finally extended to include the work of elementary instruction.
The movement met with the cordial support of naturalists everywhere, and was almost immediately followed by the establishment of Dohrn's magnificent station at Naples. Soon after, in 1875, a seaside station was established at Helder by the Netherlands Zoological Society, and other smaller ventures followed in Europe.
The need of opportunities for seaside study in this country was too generally felt by those who had come under Agassiz's influence for the project to be allowed to stop. The advantages of this method of work over museum study had impressed themselves at least upon a few workers, and accordingly we find several attempts made to found new laboratories. They differed in character and aims, but all agreed in being founded upon the one idea of studying marine animals in their native waters.