Tucked away in a corner on the top floor of the Mainiero Building at the University of La Verne is a door labeled The Edmund C. Jaeger Museum. Students, faculty and staff pass by this door every day and are unaware of what wonders lie behind it. The Edmund C. Jaeger museum is a collection of historical artifacts that have been donated to the University over many years.
“The Edmund Jaeger Museum was named after a fella who was a relatively famous naturalist,” Harvey Good, professor of biology said.
Edmund C. Jaeger was an American biologist known for his works on desert ecology. He was professor of zoology at City College in Riverside for over 30 years and spent all of his free time camping in the Mojave Desert with his students and pack mule.
“Twice a year he would pick a spot in the desert to invite students and anyone interested in learning about the desert,” Robert Neher, professor of biology said.
These meetings became known as Palavers, which Jaeger defined as “profuse and plausible talks.” In 1958, Neher attended the fourth Palaver and was introduced to Jaeger, which sparked his interest in ULV, or as it was known then, La Verne College. When the Mainiero Building was under construction, Jaeger seemed very impressed and donated money to help develop a teaching museum, which is now known as the Edmund C. Jaeger Museum.
The museum is home to a collection of Jaeger’s papers, books and artifacts as well as the Ester Funk South and Central American Native Textile Collection, the Hutchison Native American Basket Collection, the Dr. C. Bowman Mineral Collection and many more.
The Dr. C. Bowman Mineral Collection is “a very complete collection,” Good said. The collection contains two very rare specimens, which made it desirable to the Smithsonian Institution. The Institution offered to purchase the entire collection in order to obtain the two minerals but Bowman’s family declined the offer after learning that the entire collection would be split up.
“The family decided that they wanted to keep it together so it is permanently on loan here,” Good said.
Some other notable items hidden behind the door include one of five complete saber tooth cat specimens in the world, several tektites, early medical equipment and several fossils.
“I can’t believe there is a saber tooth tiger skeleton at our school,” Salvador Diaz a senior movement and sports science major said after taking a class trip to the museum. “We are very lucky to have that on campus. We should be proud of it and show it off.”
The museum also includes a wide variety of native taxidermied animals including a great horned owl, a bobcat and a California condor.
“What I would really like is a representative of all the animals that are or were here,” Good said.
Although these items are rich in price and history they have unfortunately been hidden behind a closed door due to lack of space and funding.
“We don’t have the personnel to keep it open nor the space to show it the way we would like to,” Neher said. “If we had a little more space and a little more support we would make it something that is more easily accessed.”
Although it remains a hidden treasure of the University, the Edmund C. Jaeger Museum is open to public after an appointment is made with the science department.
“The museum is something that everyone should know about and take advantage of,” Diaz said. “There is a lot of cool stuff in there.”
Jaeger proceeded to give to the University, even after his death when the University received a letter informing them that Jaeger had willed a large amount of money to the school. He had left about $250,000 to be used as scholarships for science students. The University also received one of Jaeger’s grants and established the Edmund Jaeger Book Award, which allows students to buy reference books in their chosen field of interest.
Madison Steff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.