Uniting museum collections with cutting-edge science in the heart of Los Angeles
The MLZ was founded at Occidental College in 1950 by Robert T. Moore. Moore was the quintessential adventurer, naturalist, poet, and businessman, in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt. Moore moved to California from the East Coast, where he had obtained his Master's in Comparative Literature from Harvard. Following his life-long interest in ornithology, Moore embarked on his mission to put together a physical record of Mexico's bird diversity. Making several trips himself, but mostly through a professional collector under his employ, Chester C. Lamb, Moore amassed over 50,000 bird specimens from throughout Mexico.
These specimens form an invaluable record of Mexican biodiversity from a time before habitats were cleared for forestry and agriculture. The MLZ collection continues to reveal its mysteries in the form of new species, and knowledge of how new species form on the rugged Mexican topography. New technologies mean that the specimens are also revealing the hidden secrets of their DNA for the first time.