NatSCA Digital Digest – October

Compiled by Lily Nadine Wilkes. NatSCA Volunteer.

Welcome to the October edition of NatSCA Digital Digest.What can I read?

There are some wonderful posts on our blog. Patricia Francis, the natural history curator of Gallery Oldham, wrote Natural Connections an investigation of the person, place and specimens of a painting that reveals a hidden Oldham story. There is also Andrew Kitchener’s post on CryoArks, the UK’s first zoological biobank.

As we are in Black History Month, there is a lovely collection of research from the Natural History Museum into how the museums history and collections are connected to the transatlantic slave trade in Slavery and the Natural World.

What can I see?

The National Museum of Scotland has a fabulous small exhibition on Scotland’s Precious Seas, exploring Scotland’s diverse sea life and many threats facing marine life.

Chester Zoo have shared this fantastic animal video for World Animal Day.

Not visiting anywhere currently? Take a look at the interesting online collections of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

What can I do?

The Geological Curators Group have their Symposium of Palaeontological Preparation and Conservation 2020 event on 11th – 17th October.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History are holding an online lecture ‘How do many-eyed animals see the world?’ with Dr Lauren Sumner-Rooney, a research fellow.

As part of the iDigBio webinar series ‘Adapting to COVID-19: Resources for Natural History Collections in a New Virtual World‘, Virtual Project Management, Tips and Tools, will take place on the 27th October 2020.

On social media you can get involved in #ReptileAwarenessDay on 21st October, showcase your spookiest collection on #Halloween (31st October) and on November 8th there is #STEMDay.

Save The Date!

Pest Odyssey 2021 – the Next Generation Detect, Respond, Recover – best practice IPM in 2021.

20th – 22nd September 2021

Submissions are invited for the third Pest Odyssey Conference. This will be a fully virtual conference and will enable participants to focus on changes and new developments in IPM over the last ten years.

They invite contributions looking at science, sustainability and climate change in relation to IPM. Additionally, papers examining how to carry out IPM well and what a successful IPM programme looks like over 10+ years. Methods of advocacy and successful ways to share the IPM message both in your organisation and the wider world will be welcomed.

Abstracts should be a maximum of 500 words and should be submitted to pestodyssey@gmail.com by 12 a.m. (midnight) GMT on 8th January 2021.

Successful authors will be notified by 8th March 2021. Completed papers will be required by 30th June 2021 for peer review for inclusion in the conference publication. Poster abstracts will be invited, but the call for these will follow later.

Jobs?

National Museums Scotland are looking for an Assistant Preventive Conservator. Closing date 16th October.

North Pennines AONB Partnership are looking for a Geology Projects Trainee. Closing date 11th October.

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.

CryoArks – Discover The UK’s First Zoological Biobank

Written by Andrew Kitchener, Principal Curator of Vertebrates, National Museums Scotland.

Many of us have probably been approached by eager PhD students and other researchers who want to snip a bit off those specimens or drill a few holes in others. As curators we start to feel somewhat uncomfortable about seeing our precious collections sliced and diced, and yet we are also keen to discover more about the genetic content of our specimens for their own sake. This is partly because collectively we can contribute to studies that benefit wild populations of species, including the conservation biology of many endangered species and the possibility of rewilding extirpated species. You may also have a chest freezer bursting with grip-seal bags or plastic tubes filled with tissue samples collected from specimens you have acquired, but you’ve no idea what to do with them, but you know they will be useful one day. Or maybe you have a freezer full of specimens you want to get rid of. CryoArks is a new initiative that just might help you to solve all these problems.

Sorting through lemur muscle samples at National Museums Scotland © National Museums Scotland

CryoArks is a BBSRC-funded project led by Professor Mike Bruford at Cardiff University, which has established the UK’s first comprehensive zoological biobank for research and conservation. CryoArks is a consortium of museums, zoos, academic institutions and biobanks, which is working together to establish common standards and working practices to store tissue and DNA samples and make them available on a common web portal, so that researchers and conservation biologists will be able to find out what is available for their research. This will help cut down on the sampling of our permanent collections by giving researchers something else to sink their scalpels into. CryoArks has two main sample storage hubs – at the Natural History Museum in London and at National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh – that currently house more than 65,000 samples, but we have room for almost a quarter of a million. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is also a joint CryoArks and European Association of Zoos and Aquaria biobank storage hub, bringing the zoo and non-zoo biobank communities together.

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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.

‘Tahemaa Transformed’ The Conservation of the Mummy Coffin at The Bournemouth Natural Science Society.

Written by Bethany Palumbo, ACR, Founder and Owner of Palumbo Conservation Services on behalf of the Bournemouth Natural Science Society.

Tahemaa has been a resident of the Bournemouth Natural Science Society since 1922, when she was donated from the Salisbury museum (fig. 1). New research indicates that she arrived in the UK in 1823 from the ancient city of Thebes, now known as Luxor, on the river Nile. Her coffin is dated from 700 BC making her approximately 2700 years old. We know from the hieroglyphics on the side of her coffin that she was the daughter of a Hor a high priest of Montu, the Flacon-God of War. Other than this we know very little about her and her life in Egypt.

Figure 1. Tahemaa the Mummy at the Bournemouth Natural Science Society.

Tahemaa has been at the Society for nearly 100 years but she has spent most of this time locked away from public view. In 1993, the Society decided to put her on permanent display in the Egyptology exhibition. Since then she has been seen by thousands of admirers, however due to her age and fragile condition, she is in need of urgent conservation treatment. Hundreds of years in an unstable environment have caused significant damage to the coffin. The fluctuations have caused the wood, plaster layers and paint to crack and flake. The layers of the coffin have even separated in some areas, lifting away from the wooden frame (fig 2). Many years without a display case has also resulted in a thick layer of dark, engrained dirt concealing the original colours of her decorative paintwork (fig 3).

Figure 2. Layers of the coffin structure peeling away.

Figure 3. Original colours are darkened with the build-up of surface dirt.

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NatSCA Digital Digest – August

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

Welcome to the August 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. We are really keen to hear more about museum re-openings, exhibition launches, virtual conferences and webinars, and new and interesting online content. If you have any top tips and recommendations for our next Digest please drop an email to blog@natsca.org.

Where Can I Go?

Museums have been steadily reopening since the beginning of July, and August brings a growing list of museums tentatively opening their doors to a limited number of visitors. The Art Fund has put together a list of opening dates, with big names in August including The Natural History Museum, the Science Museum (London), the Museum of Science and Industry (Manchester), National Museum Cardiff and Eureka (Halifax).

What Can I Read?

We’ve got two great posts on the NatSCA blog this month. Yvette Harvey writes about the colonial history of the collecting trips of George Forrest, whose collections still have a huge impact on what is grown in our gardens today. Jan Freedman writes about his experiences in busy museums, and how a calmer, post-Covid environment may benefit the experiences of visitors.

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