Top 10 Blogs of 2020

Written by Jennifer Gallichan, NatSCA Blog Editor; Curator (Vertebrates/Mollusca), National Museum Cardiff.

2020 – what a year! Well done on getting through it, and a heartfelt thanks from me for all of the fantastic blog contributions this year. We saw a marked increase in online engagement when the first lockdown hit, with more of you reading and engaging with our blog page than in any other year. I have very much enjoyed reading all of the articles, and I hope you have too.

To reflect on the year, here are your Top Ten most read NatSCA blog articles from 2020. Covid obviously features, as well as a strong focus on discussions surrounding decolonising collections. I am also pleased to see that there is a healthy dose of solid natural history conservation practice this year. I know I have taken great solace from the fact that no matter what was happening in the world, time seemed to stand still the minute I entered the stores. I hope that focusing on the practicalities of caring and conserving our collections has been a healthy and hopefully reassuring distraction from the craziness surrounding us all.

10. Frequently Asked Questions about Taxidermy

Written by Ella Berry amateur taxidermist & MSc Conservation Practice student, Cardiff University. Attempting to deal with some of those tricky taxidermy questions.

Photo of the taxidermy Gannet (Morus bassanus) waiting patiently(!) to go on display before the event. Photo by author.

9. Museums Beyond Covid

Written by Jan Freedman, Curator of Natural History, The Box, Plymouth. Exploring how our museum spaces and experiences might be very different in the future.

Beautiful taxidermy work of lions attacking a buffalo. I patiently waited 15 minutes until the case was clear of visitors for this photo. Photo by Jan Freedman.

8. Virtual Fieldwork during Lockdown

Written by John-James Wilson, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, World Museum, Liverpool. Re-living the fieldwork of his predecessors whilst in lockdown.

Photograph of the camp at Adho Dimellus (H. O. Forbes from The Natural History of Sokotra and Abd-el-Kuri). Public Domain.

7. Giant Sequoia at the Natural History Museum

Written by Lu Allington-Jones, Senior Conservator & Chelsea McKibbin, Conservator, at the Natural History Museum, London. Detailing the spectacular conservation of the slice of giant sequoia tree which is on display in Hintze Hall of the Natural History Museum.

Figure 2. The tree when it was felled

6. What is That Spiny Thing?

Written by Ranee Om Prakash, Senior Curator – General Herbarium IV, Algae, Fungi and Plants Division, Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum. Introducing us to some of the strange and interesting objects from the herbarium.

Fig 1. Flower of Melocactus (© The Trustees, Natural History Museum, London)

5. Playing with Wire: The Conservation of a Wallaby Skeleton

Written by Caitlin Jenkins, MSc Conservation Practice student, Cardiff University and volunteer at National Museum Cardiff. Taking us through the surprisingly complicated job of conserving a wallaby skeleton.

Beginning the ribcage wiring

4. Decolonising Natural Sciences Collections

Written by David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Earth Science Collections, The Manchester Museum. Kicking off a year of conversations about decolonising collections with his thoughts on how to go about the process.

3. Collecting with Lao Chao (Zhao Chengzhang): Decolonising the Collecting Trips of Georrge Forrest

Written by Yvette Harvey, Keeper of the Herbarium, Royal Horticultural Society, RHS Garden Wisley. Continuing the decolonising journey, looking at stories about some of the revered plant collectors from a different perspective.

Forrest’s collecting team with stacks of drying papers roped to wooden saddles ready for mule transport. Lao Chao is seen here, fifth from the right © The Royal Horticultural Society and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

2. Resurrection 101

Written by Paolo Viscardi, Curator of Zoology, National Museum of Ireland – Natural History. Paolo performing the seemingly magical transformation of a very poorly fluid specimen.

1. Telling the Truth About Who Really Collected the ‘Hero Collections

Written by Jack Ashby, Assistant Director of the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge. Summing up a year of decolonising conversations. Looking at ways to celebrate the true diversity of all the people that were ultimately responsible for making museum collections.

The Wallace’s standardwing bird-of-paradise at the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge – most likely the specimen that Ali first collected for Wallace, described in The Malay Archipelego. It is one of the syntypes (the specimens used to formally describe the species) [UMZC 27/Para/20/a/1] © University of Cambridge

And still in the top spot for the most read blog of all time is the legendary…

When Museums Get it Wrong – Did We Accidentally Accession Someone’s Holiday Booze?

All of our blog posts are still available for a read on our blog page.

Many thanks to all the contributors that have helped to make 2020 such an interesting read. I very much look forward to receiving more of your stories in 2021. If you 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 blog@natsca.org.

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