Seeing Life

With its opening in 1888, the MBL emphasized the:

  1. diversity of marine life, and its value for exploring biological questions

  2. importance of having the most up-to-date microscopes and methods

  3. integration of research and teaching, with each enhancing the other

Collecting Net cover
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Cover of the Collecting Net (Vol. 2, No. 5, 1984)

Seeing life starts with collecting organisms, then observing them in the lab. Microscopes make it possible to see more, but the specimens need to be prepared carefully and microscope quality is critical. From the beginning, the MBL Trustees and Director equipped the lab with the best. This began a long-standing tradition of collaboration with microscope manufacturers that created opportunities for MBL scientists to try out the latest technology.

This digital exhibit introduces some MBL scientists who brought together microscopy, marine organisms, research, and teaching over the years. Many others joined them, and this selection gives a glimpse of the discovery carried out at the MBL.

1. Maienschein, Jane. "100 Years Exploring Life, 1888-1988: the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole", 5/18/2012, p. 74,