A Sea of Shells

In the museum’s collection department, we are swimming in a sea of shells. A couple of years ago, a shell collector of over 50 years donated his extensive collection to the museum. We have started the long process of cataloging these treasures of land and sea. We think there are around 14,000 of them, so it is a big project!

Swollen fig shell

Swollen fig shell

Slit shell

Slit shell

Land snails

Land snails

We are constantly impressed as we go through the vast collection. The sheer number of shells obtained by one man is astounding, but more than that is the extensive nature of the collection. He was not your typical beachcomber. The sea snails, clams, oysters, land snails, and more hail from exotic locales like Carnac Island, Boa Vista Island, Madagascar, Oahu, Mazatlán, Japan, New Caledonia, Costa Rica, and the list goes on and on. Over 130 scientific families are represented in this single collection! Beyond these facts, the collection is well documented—a very exciting and welcome feature to museum collections folks like us! Most every shell has a detailed label with family, genus and species, where, when and by whom it was collected, who described the species and when, and often even more information.

Shield cup and saucer

Shield cup and saucer

Pallas wentletrap

Pallas wentletrap

Elephant tusk

Elephant tusk

While all of this is impressive, what is really mind-blowing is the creativity of the Maker of these shells. You would not believe the variety, beauty, and detail found in this one group of “lowly” animals. Delicate beauty and even some downright cuteness can be found creeping around the ocean floor and on the land worldwide. The shells exhibit a palette of colors and textures that any artist would envy.

Plan your visit to the Creation Museum today!

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