NatSCA Digital Digest – September

Lost Treasures- A Statement from the Chair

Dear all,

As most of you will no doubt be aware, the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, suffered a catastrophic fire that started in the evening of 2nd September 2018. Fortunately no people were killed in the blaze, but the majority of the collections housed in the building are thought to be lost. While the cause of the fire is still as yet uncertain, a significant proportion of the blame for the devastation caused has fallen on the Brazilian government, due to ongoing under-investment in the Museum’s infrastructure. This serves as a stark warning of the dangers faced by museums with inadequate support.

I am sure that I can speak on behalf of the whole of the Natural Sciences Collections Association membership when I offer our heartfelt condolences to our colleagues in Brazil and anyone who has lost specimens or research, or who has otherwise been affected by the fire. Until the full extent of the situation has been assessed and systems have been put in place to manage the recovery of what remains there is little that we can do. However, if you have images of specimens or information obtained from the collections of the National Museum of Brazil then compiling copies of these resources, which may be shared once appropriate systems are in place, could offer a mechanism for Brazil to reclaim a small part of their lost natural heritage.

We will update you when stable systems are in place to manage data and digital resources.

Best wishes,

Paolo Viscardi, on behalf of the NatSCA Committee


There are several exciting conferences coming up:

Collectors, Collections and the Geology of South West Britain. This joint meeting of HOGG and the GCG, will be exploring the rich geology of the South West. Talks will include plenty of specimens, and plenty of stories, and the richness of this region comes alive. The event is held at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute on Tuesday 18th September.

Care of Natural History Specimens. NatSCA is hosting a one day conference dedicated to natural history conservation. The conference will explore recent projects, developments in new methodologies, and network with colleagues. It will be held at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on October 17th 2018. Don’t forget that bursaries are available for this conference, the deadline for which is 11th March 2019.

Do you want free membership to NatSCA for a year? Of course you do! The conference organisers are running a photo competition. Share you photo of conservation and collections care in natural history on Twitter or Facebook for a chance of winning! Full details can be found here.

Inspiring volunteers. The annual conference of the Geological Curators’ Group is focusing on volunteers this December. A wide range of talks will look at how volunteers have been working with collections. The conference will be held in National Museum Wales | Amgueddfa Cymru on 4-5th December.

What Else is Happening?

Ask a Curator

The annual #AskACurator social media extravaganza was held on Twitter on the 12th September. As always there were some interesting questions from both members of the public and museum staff. It’s not too late to have a look and get replying to people’s questions. Just click on the hashtag, and jump in!

The Future

The Museums Association has launched their Collections 2030 project. This will be looking ahead to see where we think collections should be in 10 years time. (For more info, read Alistair Brown’s blog post about the project.) The MA have sent out a series of questions and are looking for feedback for all museum staff. The full details can be found here.

Before You Go…

If you have seen an exhibition, visited a museum, or perhaps you want to tell us about what you’ve been working on, do get in touch at

Written by Jan Freedman, Curator at Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s