Each time Gary Voelker opens a drawer inside rows of crisp white cabinets represents an unveiling of sorts.
Solemn beauty lies inside. Curated winged fragments of Mother Nature sit frozen in time. Some are as tiny as a human thumb, while others are long and lean. The colors on display range from white and drab earth to a vibrant spectrum of tones and shades artists spend years learning to imitate.
The Collection of Birds at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections, BRTC, is a curated collection of thousands of avian specimens from around the state, nation and world. It is a part of the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology at Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Bryan-College Station.
Voelker, Ph.D., curator of birds, professor, ornithologist and evolutionary biologist, said the collection represents decades of collection, curation and utilization by birders, researchers and students the world over.
“Our job is to preserve the material and make the data and materials available to the interested public and researchers,” he said. “We’re not a museum in that these birds are not on exhibition. We just have lots and lots of preserved material for research and education.”