NatSCA Digital Digest



In the Blogosphere

Our conference has drummed up a lot of blog interest. The Museums Association and Museums & Heritage Advisor both ran posts on it, written by our wonderful members. Also see Rachel’s piece Tweeting up a Storm on the conference and the power of social media hashtags.

Claire Madge has written an excellent piece on her experience of volunteering. Regular readers will remember Claire from the interview she gave on autism and museums last year.

Upcoming Events

The Cheltenham Science Festival has begun and will be continuing until the 7th June. If you’re free this weekend, pop along. Among the many reasons to go, seeing NatSCA patron Ben Garrod quiz palaeontologist Jack Horner has got to be right up there.

Professor of Zoology Matthew Cobb at Manchester University will be giving a talk with evolutionary biochemist Nick Lane on the 11th June at the Royal Institute called The Story of Life – a look at how genetics has impacted our understanding of biology.


There are some exciting things in the pipeline, which I want to tell you about here but I can’t yet *sits on hands*. Just watch this space.

Content assembled by Samuel Barnett

Can the natural science collection community really do anything about climate change?

MAconf2013I attended November’s Museums Association conference in Liverpool to talk, for NatSCA, on how having a natural science curator in your midst will help your museum to be greener. The session I was involved in, ‘Dead Zoos’, looked at addressing environmental issues from the natural science collection viewpoint.

Both Darren Mann and Henry McGhie spoke eloquently and sensibly about our unique position as natural scientists. We can engage all walks of life with nature and, as a consequence, we can also instil a sense of protectiveness. This, of course, includes caring about our changing climate.

I’ve heard him speak about this before but Henry’s admiration of the RSPB’s ‘giving nature a home’ campaign is always thought-provoking. The RSPB have set out to give people a framework for helping nature directly, and the public have responded.

Several of the questions from the floor asked for practical help in using their natural science collections (with or without a specialist curator) to open up discussions on green issues in their museums. Engaging people – on a wide scale – with nature is easy, a hedgehog really does speak for itself. Natural science specimens need little curatorial input to be engaging and so interpretation can easily be turned to thinking about protecting the environment. Case studies abound from Darren’s entomology collection as well as examples like the Yorkshire Museum’s Tansy Beetle reintroduction in the museum’s garden.

Last but not least it was great to attend a natural science session devoid of whinging. We talked about the positive future, not the negative past. Attendance wasn’t phenomenal, 45ish, but it wasn’t terrible. I would like to see future MA conference sessions that don’t necessarily concentrate on natural science but instead include it as an integral part of a wider topic. That would be progress.

Clare Brown