NatSCA Digital Digest – September

Compiled by Jan Freedman, Curator of Natural History, The Box, Plymouth.

Welcome to the September edition of NatSCA Digital Digest.

What can I read?

There’s a few lovely posts on our blog. Our chair, Isla Gladstone, encourages our members to have a look at our survey, for the committee to learn more about your needs from NatSCA. Bethany Palumbo takes us through the conservation of a mummy sarcophagus at the Bournemouth Natural Science Society.

There’s some nice reading on our friend’s, The Geological Curator blog. An interesting post about the discovery of a dinosaur bone on the Isle of Wight, Vectaerovenator inopinatus.

There’s a new book recently out, which is the most up to date look at our closest extinct relatives, the Neanderthals. Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art is available now.

What can I see?

There are more museums opening this month. Gallery Oldham has opened one day a week and Reading Museum has reopened ready for visitors. The Manchester Museum opens again on 16th September. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum open their doors again on 22nd September.

After a 5 year redevelopment project, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery reopens. Newly christened as The Box, Plymouth, the new museum features an all new natural history gallery, with more specimens on display than ever before.

There’s some nice You Tube videos from the National Museum of Ireland. One video explaining more to the public about what taxidermy is. Another video looks at craft projects for kids, so that teachers or parents can use them to help with their learning.

What can I do?

With many conferences being postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus, some have taken to online conferences.

The South West Federation conference on October 1st and 2nd, focuses on Interpreting, Curating and Combating the Climate Crisis. More details for booking on their website here.

The conference for the Symposium of Palaeontological Preparation and Conservation will be held virtually on 11th – 17th October. More details here.

Save the Date – Decolonising Natural Science Collections

NatSCA will be holding a one-day online conference on November 19th 2020. The programme will include papers originally selected for our May 2020 annual conference which had to be cancelled. The event will be hosted via Zoom, consisting of presentations and live Q&A with speakers. Miranda Lowe and Subhadra Das will be leading the proceedings as keynote speakers, presenting an update on their widely shared NatSCA paper Nature Read in Black and White: decolonial approaches to interpreting natural history collections.

This event will be free for members and booking details will be announced shortly.

Before You Go…

If you have any top tips and recommendations for our next Digest please drop an email to blog@natsca.org.

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.

NatSCA Digital Digest – July

Compiled by Lily Nadine Wilks, Intern at Museum Development Yorkshire.

Welcome to the July edition of NatSCA Digital Digest!Where Can I Visit?

It’s that time, museums have been allowed to reopen! Sadly most aren’t re-opening just yet to keep everyone safe. You can visit Derby Museum and Gallery from the 7th July and experience their Notice Nature Feel Joy exhibition. https://www.derbymuseums.org/locations/museum-art-gallery

Also you can visit Beamish Museum in the North East from 23rd July and visit their wonderful farms. http://www.beamish.org.uk/

The Yorkshire Museum Gardens have reopened, 7 days a week from 10.30am to 6pm – they are a wonderful place to sit and watch the squirrels https://www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk/news-media/latest-news/york-museum-gardens-reopening-in-june/

Doors may remain closed but you can visit National Museums Liverpool Dinosaurs and Natural World virtual gallery tour: https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/dinosaurs-and-natural-world-virtual-tour

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NatSCA Digital Digest – June

Compiled by Jan Freedman, Curator of Natural History, The Box, Plymouth.

Welcome to the June edition of NatSCA Digital Digest!

With the government easing lockdown, some of us return to work, but museums and art galleries still remain closed. There are still lots of great online resources and activities to enjoy.

Where can I ‘visit’?

The Natural History Museum, London has several virtual tours around their galleries. Whether you would like to flick through the Wildlife Photographer of the Year images, or listen to the soothing voice of Sir David Attenborough, there’s plenty to see, and inspire some ideas for your own museum.

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History has a wonderful virtual tour of their galleries. The North Carolina Museum of Natural History has several online events and activities, including talks with curators about their collections. Similarly, the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre has several online videos of curators talking about the collections.

What can I do?

SPNHC and ICOM NATHIST are holding a virtual digital meeting from June 8th – June 12th. The event includes presentations, symposiums and educational sharing to promote communication and professional development. More details can be found here.

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The Power of People and Collections in the Climate Emergency

Written by David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Earth Science Collections, The Manchester Museum and Jan Freedman, Curator of Natural History, The Box, Plymouth (formerly Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery).

Museums are most powerful when they connect real objects and research with real people. Natural science objects elicit deep emotional responses to the climate emergency; they help people to care and when done right, empower action.

This message is central to the NatSCA conference this year:

Changing the World: Environmental Breakdown, Decolonisation and Natural Science Collections

We’d love to hear your experience in a talk at the conference, the deadline for submissions is the 7th February.

Natural science collections are unique records of past biodiversity and climate across Britain, and the world, and are essential for climate change research taking place in museums every day. They allow access to historical information about millions of different species, providing an incredible amount of detail. They show how plants and animals have responded to past climate change, they show long-term population trends, and they show what we have lost.

These are all stories essential to bring clear factual science to an emotionally-charged debate. Research on these collections has directly shaped conservation work and climate change mitigation. In short, natural science collections are a powerful way to help save the world and give people hope for a better future.

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Decolonising Natural Sciences Collections

Written by David Gelsthorpe, Curator of Earth Science Collections, The Manchester Museum.

Decolonising museums is in the headlines a lot at the moment and so it should be. I’ve chatted to a few people about this recently and it isn’t very clear what it means, how it relates to natural science collections and how we can start to decolonise our collections, so I thought I’d share my own thoughts.

Much of the discussion in the museum sector has been around ethnography collections with some great work that goes some way to redress our colonial past (including from my own institution Manchester Museum who have returned sacred aboriginal objects). Some ethnography objects are made from bark, fur or ivory, but these materials don’t often form part of the decolonisation debate.

The reality is that many natural history collections, particularly in the western world have a colonial origin. Many objects were traded on slave ships and were an attempt to map and tame the British Empire. Miranda Lowe and Subhadra Das have done some brilliant work to highlight this and the Grant Museum’s new exhibition on their Colonial Histories is a great first step in bringing this to the public.

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