Researchers studying mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and plants of this region use the collections in one of two ways, either by studying specimens in the museum or by requesting loans that are sent by mail. This research may involve no more than learning how to identify species, for which a collection is of great value, but it also may concern systematics, ecology, adaptive morphology, evolutionary theory, ecophysiology, and other fields of biology. The museum's collections have been used in research projects of these kinds for decades, and Slater Museum specimens are regularly listed in scholarly publications.
The museum has recently been an important source of specimen records for mammals, reptiles, and amphibians for projects studying the distribution of Washington's animal life.
Students use museum specimens in several biology classes, including Vertebrate Zoology, Ecology, and Evolution. Beginning students are at least briefly exposed to the collections, which may also be used by students preparing senior theses in biology. Students are welcome to examine specimens that are of specific interest to them. The hall cases outside the museum feature concise educational exhibits of varied themes, often making use of newly acquired specimens.
The local community uses the museum in a variety of ways. Birdwatchers look at specimens to learn about plumage variation. Whole or partial specimens (for example, flowers, feathers, and bones) are brought in to be compared with samples of a wide variety of species to identify them. Identification workshops are held at intervals, and evening classes in bird biology and identification at times use specimens. Artists working in both two- and three-dimensional media often use Slater Museum specimens as references.