The Biodiversity Research Museum, Academia Sinica, was officially established in 2007. It was merged from the “Herbarium, Research Center for Biodiversity” and the “Research Museum in Research Center for Biodiversity”. The museum combined specimens from several individual collections dated as early as 1961. The main goal of the museum is to preserve specimens collected for scientific research. Currently, the collections consist of research specimens from various taxonomic groups including approximately 115 thousands of plants, 13 thousands of fishes, two thousands of birds, and five thousands of invertebrates (cnidarians, annelids, mollusks, arthropods and echinoderms). Among them, the fish collection which covers extensive local fish fauna is the most comprehensive collection of its kind in Taiwan and adjacent areas.
In order to fulfill its role as a research institute, the museum has a Collection Management Committee which was organized to supervise the operations of the museum. Committee members are appointed from research fellows within the Research Center for Biodiversity, Academia Sinica (RCBAS). The Chair of the Committee also serves as the Director of the museum while RCBAS research fellows in different taxonomic disciplines are in charge of corresponding collections.
More than 340 type specimens are preserved in the Research Museum. Specimen exchanges and research collaborations are encouraged and are taking place regularly between the museum and major universities, herbaria, museums and botanical gardens worldwide, including National Taiwan University’s Zoological Museum, Taiwan’s National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, University of Texas, Hawaii’s Bishop Museum, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, American Museum of Natural History, National Museum of Australia, The Zoological Collections at Academy of Science of The Czech Republic, etc.
The Research Museum develops cutting-edge information managing systems and on-line databases for all specimens in the collections. Information on the specimens can be inquired and easily accessed through the Internet by scholars and the public around the world. In addition, the museum is housing and managing several websites concerning biodiversity information in Taiwan such as The Fish Database of Taiwan, Database for Native Plants in Taiwan, The Taiwan Malacofauna Database, Taiwan Biodiversity National Information Network (TaiBNET), Taiwan National Node for Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Digital Museum- the world of fish, Digital Museum- recovering the freshwater fishes in Taiwan, etc. In particular, the database of “The Fish Database of Taiwan” represents an integral part of the global “FishBase” which is considered the most comprehensive biodiversity database by far. Ever since the online databases were launched, the average number of visitors to these websites is over 30,000 per month. Publications documenting the biodiversity databases, in CDs or conventional paper format, are available upon request. For public education and services, the Research Museum holds special exhibition periodically and conducts museum tours and field trips for students, teachers, and other public civic organizations.