Uses of Natural History Collections – NatSCA2014 Meeting

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Day three of SPNHC2014 kicked off with the NatSCA conference! Clare Brown introduced the session with a brief account of the importance of NatSCA. Many non-specialist museums do not have access to staff with an understanding of science, and so NatSCA can provide support to these institutions as well as demonstrate the importance of advocating collections and the many different uses that can be made of them.

The NatSCA conference continued with a series of (strictly!) five minute presentations.

Henry McGhie, of the Manchester Museum, discussed how natural history collections are under-appreciated and underused, and how an informal partnership of museums in the North West has formed in order to aid advocacy.

Rob Huxley, Natural History Museum, London, showed that museums could be used much more by a range people, such as molecular biochemists, vets, geneticists or medical practitioners. We need to think of strategies for reaching out to many more people that could make use of the collections.

David Schnidel from the NMNH Smithsonian Institution suggested we focus on what others might want from the collections, and the new uses that could be discovered for data. Scientific collections could hold answers for research in a range of fields such as the food shortage crisis, disease research and climate change. In addition to scientific research, collections could be used for inspiration for artists, fashion designers, or even architects. With millions of objects across the UK, the opportunities for expanding the usage of our collections could be endless!

Glenn Roadley, Natural Science Curatorial Trainee

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