NatSCA Digital Digest – March

Compiled by Jan Freedman, Curator of Natural History, Plymouth Museums Galleries Archives.

It’s that time again when we look at some great events and conferences, writing, and jobs, chosen just for you!

What Should I Read?

Dodo’s in Leeds. Not alive, obviously, but still extremely fascinating. A lovely post by Clare Brown at Leeds Museums and Galleries. Harry Higginson: Distributing dodos in the 1860s.

Plants. Pressed. Old. Difficult to look after. Here’s a nice post by Imogen Crarey: Five lessons for life from working on the Horniman’s Historical Herbarium.

How do you print a dinosaur to make it look lifelike and realistic? Let Alex Peaker tell you: Printing a dinosaur.

Want to discover some incredible women in science? Of course you do! Scroll through excellent, engaging and accessible blog posts all about female archaeologists and palaeontologists on the TrowelBlazers website.

What Should I Do?

Perhaps the biggest event of the year, the annual NatSCA conference, is now taking bookings!

Dead Interesting: Secrets of Collections Success
Wednesday 1st – Friday 3rd May 2019
National Museum of Ireland, Dublin – Collins Barracks site
The #NatSCA2019 conference aims to unlock the secrets of collections success by sharing how our members and colleagues in the wider sector have used collections to benefit their organisations, communities and the wider world.
We will host three themed sessions, with a focus on:
Collections: Reveal your collections care, research and access secrets.
Engagement: What are your engagement success stories and how did you make them happen?
Museums and Tech: How has technology helped you unlock, understand and unleash your collections?

Continue reading

NatSCA Digital Digest

 

A mounted skeleton of a fruitbat leers at the camera

Welcome to the March edition of the Digital Digest! Without further ado…

News

Booking is open for the 2016 NatSCA Conference and AGM, ‘The Nature of Collections – How museums inspire our connection to the natural world‘, which will be held at the Derby Museum & Art Gallery and The Silk Mill on 21 – 22 April.

We have invited papers and posters looking at how museums have inspired and shaped the relationship of visitors and users of the collections to the natural world:

  • Projects between wildlife/environmental organisations/parks and museums.
  • The training & developing of naturalist skills using collections.
  • Artists projects connecting collections/gallery to outside spaces.
  • Looking at the relationship between natural history societies, their collections & museums.
  • Exhibition examples linking preserved specimens and our environment.

The Early Bird deadline is TODAY (Thursday 10 March), so get booking and save money!

If you’re not yet a NatSCA member, now is a great time to join – you can purchase membership and get the member’s conference rate for the same cost as a non-member ticket! See our membership page to join.

If you are a member, email the NatSCA Membership Secretary (membership@natsca.org) for your booking discount code.

Jobs

Geologist, Scarborough Museums Trust. A great opportunity for any rock and fossil enthusiasts! Application deadline: Friday 8 April.

Research and Data Coordinator in Science Policy (CITES), Kew. One of a selection of interesting posts currently on offer at Kew, the application deadline for this post is Wednesday 16 March.

Around the Web

A taxidermy warehouse in London was broken into on Tuesday this week, and 18 specimens were stolen. The Met police are appealing for information: http://news.met.police.uk/news/help-needed-to-trace-stolen-stuffed-animals-154850

DNA from museum specimens confirms a new species of forest thrush.

Why was the pink-headed duck’s head pink? Museum specimens reveal the secrets of this extinct species.

Museums Unleashed #NatSCA2015

Next Thursday NatSCA will be holding our annual conference in Bristol. This meeting tends to be the highlight of the year for many natural history collections staff – a chance to catch up with colleagues, make new contacts and help shape the direction of our sector.

NatSCA conference attendee group photo from 2012. Image by Rachel Jennings, 2012

NatSCA conference attendee group photo from 2012. Image by Rachel Jennings, 2012

This year the conference is called Museums Unleashed, and the theme is sharing collections using a variety of media – from the traditional television, radio and print to newer digital and social media. This topic has a much broader relevance to the museum sector than the usual NatSCA theme and so there will be a broad diversity of speakers from broadcasting, journalism and a variety of different museum disciplines – check out the full programme and list of abstracts.

Museums Unleashed #NatSCA2015

This broader focus of the meeting will allow the NatSCA membership to learn lessons in engaging audiences from different perspectives and really make the most of our collections in order to advocate for the ongoing use and support.

Of course, this broad speaker base will also allow non-natural-science-specialist to benefit more from the meeting, providing an opportunity for the increasing number of generalist museum staff to break the ice with specialists who can help support them in their role – be it collections focussed or more outwards-facing.

If you haven’t booked a space there is still time, as bookings close on 19th May – although spaces are running out! Just head to the NatSCA website and book online.

If you want to attend the conference meal you’d better be quick though – orders need to be with the restaurant by Wednesday.

We hope to see you there, but if you can’t makes it, be sure to follow the hashtag #NatSCA2015 to keep updated!

NatSCA Digital Digest

mothdigest

In the blogosphere

For those of us that missed the Progressive Palaeontology conference, Elsa Pancroft, aka Giant Science Lady, has done a great write-up of it. I urge you to take a look.

Delicious news for the GCG: The Geological Society are running their annual bake-off again this year. No lawyers were harmed in the making of these cakes, unless they forgot their oven mitts.

 

In the news

The appreciation of skeletal form is spreading: first Trafalgar Square’s Gift Horse, now the City of London Academy has unveiled a 13 metre chicken. If anything will stop a person eating meat it’s being killed by a giant chicken.

 

Conferences and Workshops

Today marks the first day of the Linnaean Society’s two-day Digitisation Seminar. I’m looking forward to hearing from people attending, as it fits quite nicely into this year’s NatSCA Conference theme. Also really looking forward to seeing you all there.

 

Content assembled by Samuel Barnett

NatSCA Digital Digest

ChameleonYour weekly round-up of news and events happening in the world of natural sciences

 

Conferences

Conference season is well and truly upon us! Here are some dates for your diaries:

The National Forum for Biological Recording and the British Ecological Society are holding a joint conference at Sheffield University on 23rd – 25th April.

The conference of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections will be held at the Florida Museum of Natural History this year, on the 17th – 23rd May. The theme is ‘Making Natural History Collections Accessible through New and Innovative Approaches and Partnerships’.

Refloating the Ark: Connecting the public and scientists with natural history collections. A two­‐day meeting at Manchester University on 17th – 18th June, exploring how natural history museums can contribute towards environmental sustainability by engaging effectively with the public and the scientific research community.

 

Workshops

The Linnaean Society is holding a workshop on Digitising Natural History and Medical Manuscripts on 27th – 28th April.

The 2nd International Conservation Symposium-Workshop of Natural History Collections will be held in Barcelona on 6th – 9th May. The Symposium-Workshop will emphasize concepts relating to the protection and conservation of natural history collections.

Risk Management in Collections Care is a one-day seminar at Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow on 21st May, discussing how heritage organisations can use risk management to set priorities and efficiently allocate limited resources to reduce risks to collections.

As always, keep an eye on the events page of our website for more upcoming conferences and courses!

 

In the Media

Illustration of a Brontosaurus skeleton by Charles Othniel Marsh

This week’s big news: Brontosaurus is back! A new specimen-level cladistic analysis of diplodocids found strong support for Brontosaurus as a valid genus distinct from Apatosaurus. The internet rejoiced.

Entomologists from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County found 30 new species of fly in urban gardens.

Skeletal collections can tell us about the history of welfare standards in captive animals (warning: the paper is behind a paywall, but the abstract is free).

Brian Switek revisits his old fossil friend Teleoceras.

Three new species of wood lizard have been discovered in Ecuador and Peru by museum researchers.

 

Got a submission for the blog or Digital Digest? Email us at blog@natsca.org

#MuseumWeek on Twitter – what’s the point?

The last few days have seen Twitter alive with activity centred on museums, with the 2015 #MuseumWeek hashtag providing an opportunity to celebrate culture using images, videos and a maximum of 140 characters.

MuseumWeek

This Twitterstorm in a teacup may seem a bit pointless to some, but it’s difficult to fully appreciate the value of social media until you really use it and experience the benefits first hand.

That’s why this year’s NatSCA conference ‘Museums Unleashed’ is partly about getting everyone up to speed with what’s out there, how it works, and what people are using it for – to make sure that our members aren’t left behind as the museum sector increasingly embraces the digital age.

natscabristol2015

Social media provides an incredibly powerful medium for communicating with other subject specialists, and it also provides a mechanism for developing genuine dialogue with audiences. Hashtags like #MuseumMonday and #FossilFriday allow objects from behind the scenes to be shared around the world quickly and easily, bringing otherwise hidden collections into the public consciousness.

The playful and informal nature of these online interactions may be a significant departure from the authoritative and reserved image projected by some museums, perhaps causing a little discomfort for some, but that informal interaction is the very thing that makes social media such a fantastic mechanism for developing dialogue and bouncing ideas between peers.

Finally, it never pays to underestimate the power of the public as advocates for your collections. A museum with a facilitative approach to social media in its gallery spaces can benefit from the buzz created by people wanting to create and curate their own digital content, inspiring others to visit and generating a deeper interest in the museum’s activities – with minimal input required from staff.

I strongly suggest that you take a look at the various interesting subthemes within #MuseumWeek to see if you can contribute. Today is #familyMW, Saturday is #favMW (for your favourites) and Sunday is #poseMW (maybe put that selfie stick to good use?), so you still have time to get your phone out and get involved!

NatSCA Digital Digest

Gorilla skull on a black background

Your weekly round-up of news and events happening in the wonderful world of natural sciences!

 

Jobs

Unusually, there are a few natural science jobs out there in the UK at the moment:

Curatorial Assistant (Human Remains and Repatriation) – Natural History Museum. Applications close 29th March.

Curator/Lecturer in Vertebrate Palaeontology – Cambridge University. Applications close 3rd April.

Several interesting posts at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, including an Assistant Curator (applications close 7th April).

And, just in case you haven’t already seen it:

Collections Manager (Life Collections) – Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Applications close 10th April.

Events

Simon Moore’s renowned fluid preservation course will next run on 1st – 4th June at the Horniman Museum & Gardens. The four-day course costs £300 (NatSCA members can apply for a bursary). See here for details and booking.

A fluid-preserved specimen in a jar is held up to the camera. Image: Russell Dornan

Learn the skills to care for fluid-preserved specimens (Image: Russell Dornan)

The Society for the History of Natural History (SHNH) has put out a call for speakers for their annual conference, to be held at Wakefield Museum on 31st July – 1st August.

The Museum Ethnographers Group (MEG) 2015 conference is entitled Nature and Culture in Museums, and will explore the relationship between natural science and ethnography. It takes place at the Powell-Cotton Museum on 20th – 21st April, and booking is open now!

In the Media

Today is Taxonomist Appreciation Day, a holiday devised by Dr Terry McGlynn, of California State University Dominguez Hills, to highlight the decline in taxonomic skills and the importance of museum collections.

These taxonomists definitely deserve some appreciation: A census of all known marine life by WoRMS (the World Register of Marine Species) has added many new species and removed 190,400 duplicates!

Darwin’s ‘strangest animals ever discovered’ finally find their place in the tree of life.

 

Got a submission for the blog or Digital Digest? Email us at blog@natsca.org!