The Department was established in 1862 with the appointment of Hans Hermann Behr as Curator, a position he held for 24 years (1862-67, 1882-86, 1892-1904). In the intervening years through 1904, the following entomologists served as curators for varied periods: E. S. Clark, Georg W. Dunn, Henry Edwards, Charles Fuchs, and Richard H. Stretch. Since 1905, the curatorial staff has included: Edwin C. Van Dyke (1905-1952), Charles Fuchs (1912-1914), Edward P. Van Duzee (1916-1940), Edward S. Ross (1939-1980; Chairman 1941-68), Edward L. Kessel (1945-1959), Hugh B. Leech (1947-1975), Paul H. Arnaud, Jr. (1959-present; Chairman 1968-1978, 1988-1990, Acting Chairman Jan - June 1994).

Today there are four full time curators in Entomology, including David H. Kavanaugh (1974-present; Chairman 1979-1983, 1990-1992, 1996-1998); Wojciech J. Pulawski (1983-present; Chairman 1983-1987, 1992-1993, 1998 - 2001, 2007- to date); Charles E. Griswold (1992-present; Chairman July 1994 - July 1996; 2001-2004); and Brian L. Fisher (2000-present; Chairman 2004-2007).

Other entomologists were full-time, part-time, or temporary employees during the last 60 years, and among these are: Frank R.Cole, J. Wagener Green, Hartford H. Keifer, J. O. Martin, C. Don MacNeill, Thomas J. Zavortink, David C. Rentz, Robert X. Schick, and Robert L. Usinger. Notable individuals who have helped the Department extensively as volunteers in past years include Frank E. Blaisdell, Sr., Francis X. Williams, Rev. Edward Guedet, J.Linsley Gressitt, Edwin R. Leach, and E. Gorton Linsley.

The first insects and arachnids for the Academy's collection were received in 1854. By 1900, the collection had grown to about 50,000 specimens (including types of 350 species) through donations and Academy expeditions. The fire which followed the 1906 earthquake destroyed most of it, but the types of 264 Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Hymenoptera species were saved. The Academy had sponsored an expedition to the Galapagos Islands in early 1905, with F. X. Williams as expedition entomologist. When the earthquake struck, the expedition had not yet returned to San Francisco. Thus, the specimens saved from the fire and others collected by Williams and other expedition members served as the nucleus of the Academy's new collection. The 4,000 insects collected by Williams served as the basis of the study of Galapagos entomofauna for the following 50 years. Subsequent growth of the collection from its low point in 1906 to its present size and condition is discussed below, under Description of the Collection.

In July 2004, the Academy moved to its temporary location in the South of Market District of San Francisco. The new Academy reopened in Golden Gate Park in September, 2008.


  • How do I become a volunteer?

    Please visit the Volunteer website and contact the Volunteer Department at or (415) 379-5111.

  • What are the sources of the collection?

    The collection has developed and continues to grow through the acquisition of materials from diverse sources. Historically, field studies and expeditions by staff researchers have served as the primary source of materials for growth of the collection. About 50% of the entire collection of accessioned and unaccessioned specimens has been acquired through collections by staff. Especially during the past decade, donations from external sources have become a major component of collection growth. The acquisition of so-called "orphaned collections" has also contributed to collection growth. Fewer, yet significant, materials are also acquired through exchanges, direct purchases, and the financing of fieldwork by non-staff collectors and researchers, who obtain material for the collection in exchange for partial field support. During the period 1989-1993, more than 564,000 new specimens were accessioned into the collection. Of these, about 50% were additions by staff, the other 50% from other sources.

  • Where can I find job opportunities?

    Please visit the Employment website for job announcements.

  • Can you ID this insect?

    Please contact the Naturalist Center at, and attach a photo and short description.

  • How do I donate specimens?

    The Department has received tens of thousands of donations from over a thousand sources during its history. Control of collection growth from this source, even in keeping with a clearly defined acquisition policy, and the allocation of resources to processing these incoming materials is our most difficult collection management challenge. Please contact Senior Collections Manager Norm Penny at

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