Welcome to the February 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where Should I Visit?
Plenty of events and exhibitions to keep you busy this month. The Royal Academy of Arts (London) exhibition ‘Eco-Visionaries: Confronting a planet in a state of emergency’ runs until Sunday 23rd February. Through film, installation, architectural models and photography, the works in this exhibition interrogate how architecture, art and design are reacting to a rapidly changing world, From climate change to species extinction and resource depletion.
‘Exploration: From Deep Time to Outer Space’ continues at The Hunterian, Glasgow. The Hunterian is home to many important historical and modern natural history specimens and the associated materials related to them. Many of the most interesting and scientifically valuable are the product of fascinating field investigations and expeditions. This exhibition explores the scientific discoveries of the University of Glasgow’s staff, students and associates since the 18th century. Open until 15th March.
Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery are hosting ‘Microsculpture’ – featuring the startling photography of Levon Biss revealing the astonishing and stunning detailed form of insects with breathtaking clarity. The images, created in collaboration with Oxford University Museum of Natural History, present insect specimens as never before, using large-format photographic prints to expose their beauty at microscopic levels. Closes 18th April.
There’s not much time left to book onto NatSCA’s ‘Natural Science Collections: The Basics’ training event in Cambridge. Aimed at anyone wanting to find out more about caring for and using natural science collections, topics will include using specimens with school groups, writing labels, conservation and legislation. Booking closes on 23rd February, so be sure to book soon or share with any colleagues that would find the course useful.
Kew Gardens will be hosting a symposium; ‘Botany, Trade and Empire: Exploring Kew’s Miscellaneous Reports Collection’. The collection contains unique archival and rare printed material that provide evidence of the plant material, botanists, entrepreneurs, and gardeners moving across an expanding web of botanic gardens, agricultural and forestry stations. It holds huge potential for both historical and scientific research, including imperial history, the indigenous uses of plants, medicine, nutrition and health, the environment, as well as anthropology, ethnography and agricultural history. The symposium will introduce the Miscellaneous Reports to a diverse research community and explore the Reports’ themes and research potential.
What Should I Read?
We have three great new reads on the NatSCA blog this month. First comes from Dan Gordon, Keeper of Biology at The Great North Museum: Hancock. ‘Diminished Scales – The Plight of The Pangolin and The Role of Museums’ examines the pressures pangolins face at the hands of poachers and his visit to experience first hand the work of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, based in Cúc Phương National Park, Vietnam – a nation that is a global hub for pangolin trafficking, and one of the leaders in the effort to put a stop to it.
David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Earth Science Collections at The Manchester Museum writes about ‘Decolonising Natural Sciences Collections’. While much of the current conversations around decolonising focusses on ethnology collections, David shares his thoughts on what it means for natural science collections and how we should consider the hidden truths behind how much of our material was collected as part of a colonial past.
David joins Jan Freedman (Curator of Natural History, The Box, Plymouth) to discuss another hot topic – ‘The Power of People and Collections in the Climate Emergency’. Jan and David’s call to action highlights some recent museum projects that bring attention to environmental breakdown, the key theme for this year’s NatSCA conference. The call for papers has been extended to 21st February, so there’s still time if you have a project to share!
News from the Museums Association includes a statement from the British Museum in relation to their decision to not use BP as a sponsor for their exhibition, ‘Arctic: Culture and Climate’. The Geological Curators’ Group also has some great new blog posts out – The Great Meteorite of July 1860 – When Stars Fell to Earth (by Douglas Palmer, Sedgwick Museum, University of Cambridge), Six Questions for a Geological Curator (by Angharad Jones, Collections Officer, Creswell Heritage Trust) and The Mineral Collection of the Royal Institution of Cornwall (by Roy Starkey, Mineralogist and Author).
Where Should I Work?
National Museums Liverpool are seeking a Conservation Environmental Monitor, Bristol City Council are recruiting a Museum Development Officer for Gloucester, and the State Natural History Museum, Braunschweig, Germany are after a zoological taxidermist.