The Specimen Lab

The Specimen Lab in University House is a unique collection, including The Hangay Collection of insects and beetles, taxidermed specimens and collections of animal skulls. The native taxidermed specimens are registered under Parks & Wildlife.


Mission Statement

To collect, preserve, exhibit and maintain a broad range of examples of native fauna for the purpose of visual reference and observational research, primarily for students of natural history illustration and more generally students of art and science, in order that they are given the opportunity to learn and relate details of form, texture, colour and, variations according to species, gender, maturity and, locality.  

The specimens will augment field studies of live animals of the local region. For practical, logistical and, economic reasons, the collection of large fauna will concentrate on Australasian species. In the case of insects, the collections may offer an appreciation of the diversity of the world’s insect population.  


Location & Opening Hours

UNH305 – University House, Level 3, Room 305

9am – 5pm Mon – Sun

Closed on Public Holidays


Access & Usage

To access The Specimen Lab you must complete:

  1. The Level 0 General Induction
  2. Level 1 Illustration & Painting Induction

These can be found via the Induction Catalogue:

  • No food is to be brought in or consumed in the Specimen Lab.
  • No beverages without a secure lid are to be brought in or consumed in the Specimens Lab.

Specimens may be removed from the shelves for observation providing the following practice is upheld:

  1. Hands must be washed thoroughly prior to handling specimens
  2. Carefully remove specimens via the base only – avoid contact with fur and feathers
  3. Specimens may not be removed from University House and can not be taken into the CoLab or Computer Lab areas without written consent from the Technical Staff
  4. Specimens must be replaced back onto shelves after observational use
  5. Hands must be washed thoroughly after handling specimens
  6. Freezers are for specimen preservation and maintenance requirements only

The Hangay Collection – the insects in the wooden drawers with glass lids, must never be removed from their cases unless under direct supervision by technical staff.

Student-collected and pinned, non-venomous insects are welcome additions to the collection, provided they are in good condition and frozen for a quarantine period of 1 week in the specimen lab freezers before being placed into the wooden boxes.

As the Specimen Collection is at near capacity, we are not currently accepting any other kinds of donations.

There are no arachnids held within the collection.


Equipment

Access and booking the equipment can be gained by completing The Specimen Lab Microscopes Orange Level 2 Induction – this is an in person induction and demonstration by your tutor or technical staff.

  • 2 x Nikon Microscope with drawing tube extension
  • 1 x Leica Microscope with drawing tube extension and usb camera
  • 1 x Olympus Microscope with drawing tube extension
  • Portable Equipment – Copy stand for macro insect photography

History

2.1 The Collection was established in the early 1980s from a few existing taxidermy mounts of unknown origin. The specimens were found to be useful as models for drawing and painting wildlife in the discipline then known as Plant and Wildlife Illustration. As the program of study has grown, the collection has been augmented by:  

2.1.1 Acquisitions of prepared specimens from museums, taxidermists and private collectors, the most significant of noteworthy mention being: 

1980 – from William T. Cooper, renowned Australian bird artist: a personal collection of insects mostly from around Myall Lakes NSW in the 1950s-70s. 

2007 – from Christine Sanders, retired Senior Lecturer in Natural History Illustration: donated the insect (moths) collection of her deceased partner Professor Graham Gilchrist, one time Head of Fine Art and Design, mostly collected around the Smiths Lake and Hunter region during the 1980s. 

2008 – from George and Kathy Hangay, lifetime international collectors and taxidermists: donated approximately 50,000 insect specimens (mostly beetles) from Australia, South America, SE Asia, Central Africa and Middle Europe. 

2.1.2 Field-finds of deceased native fauna from University staff, students and associates. When required, specimens have been subsequently preserved in alcohol or mounted by registered taxidermists under the licence authority. Taxidermists used have been Mr Steve Heeren (1980’s, now deceased), Mr Alex Wang, Australian Museum, (NPWS Scientific Authority A1397), and most recently Mr George Hangay (Educational Conservation Licence 10103). 

Included in field-finds are skeletal bones of native fauna, wild and domestic unprotected fauna, bird feathers, abandoned bird nests and naturally dessicated skins. 

2.1.3 Donations of deceased native fauna from veterinary practices and wildlife rescue organizations. Substantial contributions of specimens have been made by Ms Trudy Fennell, Rescuer for Native Animal Trust Fund Inc. and Ms Kathryn Davis, Bat Rehabilitator, Wildlife A.R.C.  

Dr. Trevor Weekes, Lecturer in Natural History Illustration has added substantial numbers of taxidermy fauna specimens from his own studio as well as many skulls, skull replicas and articulated skeletons which are held as loans in the collection for student use whilst he is in the employ of the University. 


Notable Donors

  • Dr. George Hangay
  • Dr. Trevor Weekes
  • Herbert Heinrich
  • Christine Sanders
  • Dr. Daniel Atkins
  • Trudy Fennell
  • Kathryn Davis

Collection Policy

Updated on August 18, 2022

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