NatSCA Digital Digest – March 2023

Welcome to the March edition of NatSCA Digital Digest.

Compiled by Olivia Beavers, Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at World Museum, National Museums Liverpool.

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. We are keen to hear from you if you have any top tips and recommendations for our next Digest, please drop an email to

Sector News

NatSCA Conference 2023

Registration is open for the Annual Conference & AGM of the Natural Sciences Collections Association will be held on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th April 2023. Stoke-on-Trent Museums will be hosting the conference at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. The conference will include gallery and collection tours, presentations, poster sessions and the annual AGM. The focus this year is:

So how do we actually do all this? Hopeful futures and turning theory into practice for big issues in natural history collections

This is the “How To…” conference for people working with natural history collections. The last few years have seen unprecedented changes in the expectations for what the museum sector can deliver. Global and local social and environmental issues have coincided to reinforce the needs of museums to consider their reinvention and relevance.

Register via Eventbrite through the NatSCA website: Members can access discounted booking rates by entering a promo code which has been distributed. If you are a NatSCA member and have not received a code via email, please contact We look forward to seeing you in April!

SPNHC Conference

The 38th Annual Meeting of The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections is being held in San Francisco, California 28 May – 2 June 2023. Full details here.

Unnatural History Museum session

This session will be held on 22nd March 2023 on the topic of decolonising natural history museums. 

“We are at a crucial historical moment, in which the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List has announced a catastrophic decline in global biodiversity. Yet nature is, necessarily, interpreted in museums, through taxidermy dioramas and skeletal mounts; virtual tours and digital databases; image, text and film. The Unnatural History Museum brings together museum professionals and academics across disciplines to platform vital conversations about the museum mediation of the natural world during the sixth mass extinction.”

Each session is hosted on Zoom to allow for international participation, and takes the format of short presentations focussed around a specific theme, followed by a synthesised Q&A and roundtable discussion. To register and find out more click here.

The Symposium on Palaeontological Preparation and Conservation #SPPC2023

This will take place at the Minerva Building, Lincoln UK, in conjunction with the Symposium on Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy (SVPCA) and the Geological Curators Group (GCG). For previous years abstracts and posters please see:

Cambridge University Museum of Zoology Discovery Talk

Last month, Cambridge University Museum of Zoology hosted “The Heroes and the hidden: searching the truth of who really collected for natural history museums” to mark Wallace’s 200th birthday. Assistant Director, Jack Ashby shared his research that tries to identify and celebrate the people who have so often been hidden in the accounts of how museum specimens were collected. You can now watch the talk here:

2023 Geochemistry Group Research In Progress Meeting

The 2023 Geochemistry Group Research In Progress Meeting will be held at the Earth Science department of the University of Cambridge on the 18th (afternoon only), 19th and 20th of April 2023.

This meeting, focused on showcasing the work of early-career researchers, is a great opportunity for the UK and Ireland geochemistry community to meet. The meeting can be attended both in-person or remotely. 

To register and/or submit an abstract, please visit the online registration page. The deadline for early-bird registration and abstract submission is the 17th March 2023 and for late registration is the 31st March. It is unlikely to be possible to register on site due to catering.

NatSCA Lunchtime Chats

The new lunchtime chats are for members only and run on the last Thursday of every month.

This series is supposed to be informal; no fancy equipment is needed; it will be put out over the NatSCA Zoom platform and there is no fixed format. For those who want to take part please email to put forward your idea. All members will have received a link to join via Zoom (the same link works for all sessions) – if you haven’t, get in touch with

Temporary Closure – Grant Museum

The Grant Museum of Zoology will temporarily close in mid-March 2023 for a £300,000 improvement programme, reopening in autumn 2023. The changes will maintain the Museum’s beautifully unique floor-to-ceiling displays and atmospheric charm. The space will have new interpretation to highlight the astonishing diversity of life in the natural world and explore how the collections can inspire and challenge us to rebalance our relationship with nature. External funding for the improvement work was awarded jointly by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and the Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Foundation, and was announced at the Museum in December 2022.

Ipswich Museums Awarded Designated Status for Post-Cretaceous Geology Collection

Ipswich Museums’ Post-Cretaceous Geology Collection, which includes an outstanding ice age collection, has been awarded Designated status by Arts Council England. The collection includes specimens more recent than the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs, 66 million years ago. The greatest strength of the collection includes Suffolk Plio-Pleistocene fossils, the remains of animals which lived during the ice age (which started 2.5 million years ago), and the warmer Pliocene before it. With pre-eminent collections covering this period, the collections now attract international researchers. This news is very timely indeed as they shape their new museum at Ipswich. It is the optimal opportunity to build in the international significance of this collection in the new displays in a way that the public can be proud of.

Where to Visit

Dippy in Coventry

Meet Dippy the world-famous dino-star in Coventry as it takes up residence at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum for the next three years. Dippy is a life-size replica of a Diplodocus carnegii skeleton – a 26 metre-long dinosaur that lived about 145 – 155 million years ago. Dippy in Coventry: The Nation’s Favourite Dinosaur is free to visit, tickets can be booked at

Alongside Dippy, the Herbert is showcasing its (and Warwickshire Museum’s) own fossil collection with a new display, Warwickshire’s Jurassic Sea. And for the next few months families can explore the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum’s permanent galleries with Dippy-inspired Fossils and Folklore trail. From snakestones to devil’s fingers, this fun, free trail explores the connection between fossils and folklore, with specimens dotted around the building.

Harlequin Toads x Conservation Across Continents

The newly re-opened Manchester Museum is launching it’s new variable harlequin toad exhibit at the end of March. It’s a showcase of the joint commitment between Manchester Museum and Panama Wildlife Conservation charity to the conservation of one of the world’s rarest species. Although the launch event is fully booked – you can attend their free drop-in sessions: Meet the Keeper in the Vivarium between Tues – Fri during term time.

Fossil Hunting Walks

Lyme Regis Museum has started running fossil walks every weekend in March, check here for availability.

The Irish Entomologists Conference, 24 March

What to Read

We have three great reads from the NatSCA blog this month starting off with Natural History Museums for a World in Harmony with Nature: Now’s the Time! by Henry McGhie, ecologist, museum curator and manager, who asks us to ask ourselves how our current work relates to Museums and the Sustainable Development Goals. What else could you be doing to support them, and how you can use them as practical tools?

A second NatSCA blog written by Olivia Beavers reports back on her recent visit to Brussels for the 4th MOBILISE Training School: “Next Step in the Digitisation Process of Natural History collections: Publishing of Biological, Geological, Palaeontological and Mineralogical data”.

The most recent blog post: Aliens Escape the Herbarium from Annette Townsend (Interdisciplinary Natural History Artist) & Sally Whyman (Botany Curator, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales) explores the combination of artistic skills with extensive collection knowledge to create amazing sculptures.

Where to Work

National Museums Scotland are looking for a Full Time, Permanent Assistant Curator, Fluid Collections (£28,571 to £30,949 per annum). Closing date is Sunday March 12th 2023. They are also looking for a Full Time, Permanent Curator/Senior Curator, Birds (£33,111 – £41,785 per annum) – closing date is Sunday March 26th 2023.

The Royal Danish Academy – Architecture, Design, Conservation invites applications for a permanent, full time assistant/associate professorship with a particular focus on the conservation of leather, skins, hides, parchment and furs – click here to learn more about the role. The position is affiliated with the Institute of Conservation. The application closing date is April 6th 2023.

Before You Go…

If you have any top tips and recommendations for our next Digest please drop an email to Similarly, if you have something to say about a current topic, or perhaps you want to tell us what you’ve been working on, we welcome new blog articles so please drop Jen an email if you have anything you would like to submit.

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