behind a nondescript door in MU's sprawling Agriculture Building, the modest suite housing the Enns Entomology Museum is, perhaps understandably, seldom crowded with visitors. But just a cursory glance at its collections should convince even the most insect-averse observers that these rooms are a must-see.
Rows of finely crafted display cases display bugs of every conceivable size and shape, while hundreds of cabinet drawers conceal some of the 6 million specimens collected during the museum's more than 130-year history.
The collection's first curator was the now-legendary entomologist Charles Valentine Riley, the man who, along with French botanist Jules Èmile Planchon, showed the vigneron how to defeat the aphid then feasting on Europe's wine-grape vines. For his efforts, Valentine was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
Today's curator, Bob Sites, a professor of entomology at MU, is also among the world's most celebrated insect experts. As detailed in a feature story in Illumination's Fall 2007 issue, Sites has for years traveled the globe documenting insect life in remote "biodiversity hotspots," places that represent some of the "richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on earth."
You can see additional specimens representing the collecting work of Riley, Sites and their colleagues by visiting Illumination's website. A visit to the facility is even better. The museum's hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, holidays excepted. Groups can arrange tours by calling Collections Manager Kristen Simpson at (573) 882-2410.