NatSCA Digital Digest – November

Compiled by Glenn Roadley, Curator (Natural Science), The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

Welcome to the November edition of NatSCA Digital Digest!

A monthly blog series featuring the latest on where to go, what to see and do in the natural history sector including jobs, exhibitions, conferences and training opportunities. If you have visited an exhibition/museum, have something to say about a current topic, or perhaps you want to tell us what you’ve been working on, please drop an email to

Where Should I Visit?

The Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne is opening a temporary exhibition curated by Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s first MP. BRINK opens on Saturday 23rd November and continues until Sunday 10th May 2020. The exhibition consists of a selection of art works chosen to reflect and resonate with Caroline’s passions and interests, from her environmental work, issues of climate change and effects on our landscape, to her love of living in Sussex.

Displays of Power: A Natural History of Empire opened in September at the Grant Museum of Zoology and continues until March. This free exhibition connects the specimens in the Grant Museum of Zoology to a wider history of science and Empire, by asking one simple question: “How did all these things come to be here in the first place?”

The latest in a series of literature-inspired displays, Potters Lane at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery threads objects from the Local History, Arts and Natural Science collections through the existing Local History dioramas to create Harry Potter themed displays. Potters Lane is open until 22nd December.

Down the road from The Potteries Museum, the Museum of Cannock Chase have opened the Wild About Staffordshire Exhibition. Working with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the exhibition invites submissions of artwork and photography inspired by the landscapes and wildlife of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust nature reserves.

In Bradford, celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing continue with Hello Universe – a mesmerising journey through the incredible sights and sounds of space. Hello Universe will take you on a voyage, from the earliest paintings of planets to today’s super-high definition photographs of deepest space. Closes 22nd January 2020.

What Should I Read?

One big piece of natural science collections news which even made it into mainstream media was the publication of a study by Cooper et al: Sex biases in bird and mammal natural history collections. Natalie Cooper and colleagues Alexander Bond, Joshua Davis, Roberto Miguez, Loiuse Tomsett and Kristofer Helgen looked at the data of over 2 million specimens from 5 international museums and found a bias for collecting male specimens, which could have implications for studies using these specimens. A similar study by Rebecca Machin in 2008 also found a bias towards male specimens, though this went as far as their interpretation and display, with males being positioned and postured in a dominating manner over female specimens.

In case you haven’t had your fill of political shenanigans recently, Nicky Morgan recently announced that she will be stepping down as Culture secretary, paving the way for the appointment of the third culture secretary this year.

On our blog we have a great intro to Kirsty Lloyd, newly elected to the NatSCA Committee at our AGM in Dublin. Kirsty is a BBSRC CryoArks Technician at the Natural History Museum, London, and will be taking on the important role of tracking and supporting collections at risk for NatSCA.

Dr Emma Nicholls, Deputy Keeper of Natural History, Horniman Museum and Gardens has provided a fascinating write-up detailing the trials and tribulations of documenting a single collection of 175,000 fossil specimens with limited time and resources.

Where Should I Work?

Opportunities for working with natural science collections are thin on the ground this month (well, more so than usual), but there are still options out there for those interested in getting into the sector or climbing their way up the ladder. The Garden Museum, London, is recruiting a Head of Operations and Visitor Services, and Derby Museums are looking for a Temporary Project Assistant and a Special Exhibitions Administrator. The University of Birmingham is after a new Collections Manager while the Science Museum Group wants a Head Curator to work at MOSI in Manchester.

Before You Go…

We welcome new blog articles so please drop Jen an email at if you have anything you would like to submit.

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