UW-Green Bay’s Richter Museum home to massive spider collection

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – The Richter Museum at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay recently became home to the largest spider collection in Wisconsin.

“As far as spiders go, we now have the largest collection,” said Tom Erdman, UWGB Richter Museum curator. “When we finish up, we have some more things coming in November. We’ll have over 10,000 specimens.”

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The spider collection is from Dr. Jack Kaspar, a long-time professor at UW-Oshkosh and an avid spider collector.

“He had started collecting in the 1950’s, late 40’s, mainly in Wisconsin, so we have the whole long run of collecting in Wisconsin,” Erdman said. “We know where spiders started, when they first appeared here. We can look and see, well here’s a spider that isn’t here anymore.”

Before Dr. Kaspar died last December, he agreed to donate his collection to the Richter Museum. Wisconsin’s 400-plus spider species are all represented— as are thousands of spiders from around the world.

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“So we have things from Indonesia,” Erdman said. “We have things from India. We have things from Africa that he’s gone through that students sent him.”

Stored in ethanol to keep them fresh and flexible, the spiders will be used for research and teaching.

“We’re the only institution in the system where the kids have that much hands-on experience,” Erdman said.

Because the Richter Museum is a research museum, it is generally not open to the public. However, group tours are welcome and can be arranged at the museum. Their phone number is 920-465-2713.

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