The Schiele Museum was founded to house the biological and anthropological collections assembled by Bud and Lily Schiele over the course of their lives. These objects form the core of the museum's collections, which have grown through the generosity of individual donations, purchases and gifts. The collections provide the foundation of the museum's exhibition, research and education programs.
Our collections include more than 150,000 objects in the broad category of ethnology, which includes archaeology, Catawba pottery, general ethnology, kachinas, Native American baskets, Native American jewelry, North American pottery; and natural sciences to include bird eggs, entomology, lepidoptera, mineralogy, mycology and paleontology.
Our Archaeology Collection contains items such as arrowheads, pottery shards, glass and other artifacts from our research projects. We have more than 650 pieces of Catawba Pottery, including 263 pieces from The Larry A. Ware Collection, giving us one of the largest museum-owned Catawba pottery collections in the country.
General Ethnology Collection
Our General Ethnology Collection, which includes objects such as shirts, moccasins and dolls, represents several American Indian cultures.
American Indian Basket Collection
In our American Indian Basket Collection, we have nearly 200 baskets from tribes such as Catawba, Cherokee, Navajo and Hopi.
American Indian Jewelry Collection
Necklaces, rings, and bracelets made from clay or semi-precious stones and metals are found within our American Indian Jewelry Collection.
Our Kachina Collection includes figures made primarily by Hopi artists.
American Indian Pottery Collection
Pots, bowls, animal effigies and pipes from tribes such as Acoma, Pamunkey and San Ildefonso compose our American Indian Pottery Collection.
Beal Bird Egg Collection
The Beal Bird Egg Collection includes more than 900 specimens from Arctic Terns to Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
In our Entomology Collection, we have more than 50,000 specimens of insects, spiders and beetles.
Malacology CollectionThe Malacology Collection at the Schiele Museum is a compilation of primarily marine and terrestrial mollusks from several personal and professional collections. Mollusks include the aquatic snails and clams as well as land snails and slugs, including many miniature species under 3 millimeters. The Schiele mollusk collection houses over 10,000 specimens and 800 species of marine and terrestrial mollusks, making it one of the largest in the state.
The marine mollusk collection at the Schiele is mostly a dry collection of shells from the east coast of the United States with a number of exotic species from various locations worldwide. The shells comprise about 80 – 90% of the known species of marine mollusks found in North Carolina and surrounding states. The largest portion of the Schiele collection was collected by Denise Furr, Schiele Malacologist, over a period of 40 years on the southeastern coast of the United States. This collection also includes the Ed Menhinick Collection from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dr. Menhinick collected marine mollusks from the Woods Hole area of Massachusetts and southern Florida. Other donated collections have contributed exotic species from Japan, South Africa, New Zealand and Pacific Islands. Freshwater mollusks have a limited representation in the collection as well.
A special emphasis has been placed on terrestrial mollusks in the last decade at the Schiele. The important role of the terrestrial mollusk in ecological studies has recently been recognized by several researchers in the state. The Southern Piedmont has been a relatively understudied area in terrestrial malacology even though about 75 species are indigenous to the region. The Schiele Malacologist Denise Furr is actively contributing to this research by collecting and studying the Piedmont land snails. The Schiele Museum has one of the largest collections of terrestrial mollusks in the state, with many alcohol preserved as well as dry specimens of over 125 species of pulmonate (primarily land) mollusks, primarily from the Piedmont of North Carolina.
More than 1000 butterflies from Gaston County to India are held within our Lepidoptera Collection.
Taxidermy Mounts Collection
Mr. Schiele himself prepared many of the more than 600 taxidermy specimens we have in our Taxidermy Mounts Collection.
Gems and Minerals Collection
Our Gems and Minerals Collection contains more than 1000 specimens including Blue Tourmaline from Brazil, Lazulite from North Carolina and Tiger Eye Quartz from South Africa.
Most of the 1300 fungi and mushrooms in our Mycology Collection are from North Carolina.
Our Paleontology Collection contains fossils of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants collected primarily in the Western United States.
Currently Posted Jobs:
Currently Posted Internships:
- Archaeology: Will provide an in-service learning experience that illustrates a career in Archaeology and Archaeological Collections management. The intern will learn about critical steps in the application and administration of archaeological research.
- Live Animal Husbandry: Will provide in-service learning experiences in museum live animal care, education and exhibition activities. For a full internship description click here.
Most interns work 15 to 25 hours a week. Some interns choose to find a part-time job to help support their stay.
Mission: The Schiele Museum's internship and fellowship program is designed to provide an educational opportunity for students in the area of museum practice, research, and programming through guided work/research experiences using the resources of the museum. An internship at The Schiele Museum is a prearranged, structured learning experience scheduled within a specific time frame under the direct supervision of Schiele staff and may apply toward academic credit.
Projects vary by department. Past projects include:
- Archaeology: fieldwork on prehistoric sites and artifact analysis.
- Education: assist with developing, presenting and evaluating public programs and workshops.
- 18th Century History and Backcountry Lifeways: researching and presenting living history programs.
- Aboriginal Studies and Primitive Skills: learning primitive skills and assisting with programs and workshops.
- Exhibits: fabricating and installing exhibits, developing databases for exhibitions, developing press kits and editing label text.
- Visitor Services: developing and evaluating visitor guides and giving tours.
- Collections: organizing and cataloging photos, monitoring museum environmental conditions and assisting with upgrading collections storage.
- Exhibits: learn about critical steps in the exhibit development and implementation process. .
- History Education: will learn about application and administration of education programs in the museum setting.
- Interpretation: learn about critical steps development, implementation, and evaluation of program and exhibits products
The Schiele Museum goes way back... to 1961! It was then that Rudolph "Bud" Schiele was able to work with the community of Gastonia to establish a building for him to house his vast collection of animal specimens collected from his years spent exploring the natural world.
Bud Schiele was 67 years old when he founded the Gaston County Museum of Natural History, today known as the Schiele Museum. The museum's opening was a culmination of a lifetime devoted to studying, cataloging and preserving nature. To understand The Schiele Museum's beginning is to understand this self-styled naturalist and botanist who refused to stop working in a profession that he loved so much.
Rudolph Melchoir Schiele was born in Philadelphia on April 2, 1893. He developed a keen interest in nature at an early age and, as a young man, worked as an apprentice curator at the Philadelphia Commercial Museum. Though only 17, Schiele began to dream of having his own sanctuary to display his nature collection.
Schiele served as a Second Lieutenant in the 87th Infantry Division of the United States Army after which he declined a job offer to be the only wildlife official in the Territory of Alaska. Instead, Schiele took the job as Scout Executive with the Boy Scouts of America. It was around this time that he married Lily Hobbs, who became his lifelong companion, naturalist and collector.
The Schieles came to Gaston County in 1924 where he remained with the Piedmont Scout Council until 1958. Under his leadership, the Schiele Scout reservation at Tryon was built and became the home for thousands of scouts every summer until it was closed in 1981.
For 38 years, Schiele collected wildlife, rocks and minerals, which he displayed at the scout office in Gastonia and at his home.
After he was forced to leave scouting because of mandatory retirement age limits, Schiele applied to be a ranger-naturalist for the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Before leaving Gastonia, however, Schiele proposed to a group of community leaders: "If you can persuade the county to build a place to house it, I will offer my entire collection of animals and minerals and give my services for free."
When the Schieles returned to their Gaston County home, plans were already in the works to find a sanctuary for the collection of birds, mammals, rocks, minerals and photographs. The original museum was dedicated in 1961 and, in 1965, the name of the museum was changed to The Schiele Museum of Natural History to honor its founder and benefactor. Today it's called The Schiele Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.
Bud Schiele continued to be active in Museum affairs until he died in 1974. He was able to pass on some of his vast knowledge of the outdoors to his successor, Alan Stout, who retired in 1995. Stout, who spent nine years under Schiele's tutelage, says he wouldn't trade the experience for "two or three Ph.D.s."
Over the years, Bud Schiele received several commendations for his endeavors as a naturalist, historian and community servant. In 1930, he was awarded honorary membership in Alpha Phi Omega at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 1967, he was cited by the Gastonia Chamber of Commerce for outstanding service. In 1968, he received an honorary doctor of law degree from Belmont Abbey College. And each year, the museum observes the first week in April and the month of February as Founder's Week and Founder's Month, respectively, in his honor.
Bud Schiele's legacy lives on — not only in the exhibits, but in the spirit of education and conservation engendered at The Schiele Museum.
Corporate giving to The Schiele Museum supports programs, exhibits, and activities — all of which contribute to an unmatched visitor experience for families, teachers, and students.
Support of The Schiele through corporate giving goes a long way to:
- Provide education to Gaston County students and 14 other regional county school systems to meet state curriculum requirements in the sciences and natural history. We know we've changed future career choices for tomorrow's citizens.
- Sustain operations of our outdoor interpretive areas.
- Further original worldwide research being conducted by our staff.
Not only does your corporate support help provide a stable financial future for The Schiele, it also demonstrates your commitment to quality of life and exemplary education in the communities you serve.
The Schiele Museum has numerous opportunities for your corporation to sponsor an exhibit, permanent gallery, educational program, etc, linking your organization with a true community asset.
Donations make it possible for The Schiele Museum to serve thousands of students, families, and visitors each year with programs designed to inspire wonder for science and the natural world. If you want to contribute to instilling a respect for nature and appreciation for the diversity of life then you should consider working with The Schiele Museum as a donor.
Many generous Schiele Museum Members and friends are helping to ensure the future of the museum for many generations. You, too, can help by making a planned gift, a contribution to our Endowment Fund, a Memorial Gift, and even an honorarium. Should you wish, you may restrict your gift to a specific program area or department. Below is a partial list of restricted gift opportunities:
Outdoor Interpretive Sites
Permanent Gallery Construction or Renovation
Collections or Research
The Schiele Museum extends gratitude to the generous individuals who gave in 2017 and the community organizations and businesses who gave through our corporate membership and sponsorship programs.
The Schiele Endowment Fund / Planned Giving
The Schiele Museum Endowment Fund was established in January 1998 from a portion of a gift from the Margaret Rankin Beam Estate. Held at the Community Foundation of Gaston County, our Endowment Fund continues to grow aggressively from year to year. 5% of the fund's average balance may be used each year for Museum projects based on approval by our Board of Trustees. One may make a direct cash gift to the Endowment Fund, or use any of the planned giving methods in accordance with IRS rules and regulations.
The Schiele Museum is a part of our community and we aim to give back abundant support in the same way that we receive it. Please feel free to reach out to us directly with information about how we can support your goals to improve our community.
Volunteers are important at The Schiele Museum and we would love to have you join us!
Volunteering at The Schiele Museum is a great opportunity to learn about nature, meet new people and help our visitors connect with the world around them. We offer a range of opportunities to match your interests and availability. Volunteers provide an invaluable service to not just the museum, but to the community.
Volunteer placement is a selective process, and not all applicants are accepted into the program. All applicants must 16+ years old and are asked to provide two letters of recommendation in order to be eligible for volunteering. The Schiele Museum reserves the right to place volunteers in the area that the staff feel is best suited to the applicant's skills and the needs of the museum. A background check is necessary to volunteer for applicants 18+ years old.
Want to volunteer? Click this link to submit your email and contact information and our Volunteers coordinator will contact you.
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