The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum has experienced lots of changes in the last few years, including a new director.
Duke Rogers is replacing Larry St. Clair, who retired after 10 years of service.
“I was really happy that I was appointed the director,” Rogers said. “I care about this museum, so it was a good thing.”
Rogers has been a BYU faculty member since 1989. Not LDS, Rogers said he was drawn to the university because of the quality of the students and what he found to be a good balance of research and teaching.
“This was what he wanted,” said museum employee Brittany Nuttall. “He really wanted this position and he’s always told me that — ever since I’ve been working with him — that one day he could be the director of the museum because he cared so much about the museums and their mission.”
Rogers attended Texas A&M University for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and received a doctorate in zoology from UC Berkeley. He said he really enjoys less visible aspects of museum work.
“My favorite part happens to be the behind-the-scenes research working in the research collections,” Rogers said. “When people come to the museum they see the exhibits, and that’s a big part of what we do. But I would say a more significant part, in terms of scholarship and advancing science, is our research collections and the curatorial faculty.”
Rogers also said he understands the value of preservation.
“They’re a record of the history, but also oftentimes, if they’re dried or preserved in a certain way, they contain biological information that we can use beyond that animal or plant,” Rogers said. “We anticipate that there will be future uses for these things that we don’t even know about. They’re invaluable.”
The Bean Museum has changed significantly in recent years, partly because of an extensive renovation from 2012 to 2014. The museum currently focuses on an audience of younger children, but Rogers plans to expand the museum’s target audience. The museum is looking for new ways to combine technology with exhibits to make them more interactive and appealing to older age groups. One planned exhibit will discuss how faith and science can work together to clarify truth and understanding.
Chris Jacobs, a student employee of the Bean Museum, said he believes people of all ages would enjoy a visit.
“It’s a lot cooler than they probably think it is,” Jacobs said. “We’ve got the big animals, we’ve got the live animals shows, we also have date nights — so (you) gotta come to those. It’s an impressive museum.”
The Bean Museum has some of the largest herbarium and entomology collections in the country, with all the specimens and collections valued at $55 million. Hundreds of people have collected these specimens over the course of almost 100 years.
The Bean Museum is located on campus at 645 E. 1430 North and is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free, and more information is available at mlbean.byu.edu.