NatSCA Digital Digest – February 2023

Compiled by Glenn Roadley, NatSCA Committee Member, Curator of Natural Science at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

Welcome to the February 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 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

The NatSCA annual conference and AGM will be held at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th April 2023. 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. Booking will open shortly, so keep an eye on our website and social media channels for updates.

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.

DiSSCo UK Community Event

The next DiSSCo UK event will be held on March 3rd, 14:30-16:30 via Microsoft Teams. Please save this date in your calendars! A general update on DiSSCo UK activities and future plans will be provided, and we will hear from our colleagues at Kew regarding their digitisation project, and will discuss the affiliation between natural science collections and the humanities sector. For details, contact Tara Wainwright (

Bursaries for People and Plants workshop 2 at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Friday March 10th 2023)

Applications are now open for 4 funded spaces at workshop 2 of the AHRC funded project ‘People and Plants: reactivating ethnobotanical collections as material archives of Indigenous ecological knowledge’.

Four bursaries of up to £225 each are available. This sum may be set against your travel costs or accommodation costs.


  • Only members of the Natural Science Collections Association and the Museum Ethnographers Group can apply for a bursary.
  • All successful applicants must provide a write up for the NatSCA or MEG blog.
  • Due the funds available, applications are limited to UK residents only.
  • Bursaries are only open to individual members.

To apply for a bursary please write no more than 500 words on how the workshop would be useful for your own personal or professional development, how this fits with your interests and what you might bring to the discussion.

Preference will be given to those lacking institutional support to attend workshops, early career museum professionals and students.

All bursaries are given at the discretion of the project team and the NatSCA and MEG committee. Applicants will be notified by February 20th if they have been successful and travel and accommodation will be booked by the project.

Applications should be sent to: Ali Clark by Friday February 17th at 5pm.

Details of the workshop: March 10th Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

This workshop will be run in partnership with the Department of Cultures and Languages, Birkbeck, University of London and Museu Goeldi, Brazil. Discussions will be centred around the ecological value of ethnobotanical collections, including a focus on the interaction of western botanical nomenclature and traditional knowledge which forms the basis of an existing British Academy Knowledge Frontiers project. The Richard Spruce collection (1849-1864) will be the basis of a case study for how culture, plants and environment in the northwest Amazon have changed over the last 160 years.

Speakers include: Luciana Martins (Birkbeck), Dagoberto Lima Azevedo (Tukano Indigenous Researcher), Claudia-Leonor Lopez Garces (Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi) and Cinthya Lana (University of Gothenburg)

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The ‘Social History of Natural History: People and Plants’ Workshop One

March 11th 2022, Powell-Cotton Museum

Written by Alexandra Slucky (Assistant Heritage Consultant & Environmental Archaeologist, Atkins, York Office) and Fiona Roberts (Collaborative ESRC PhD student, Cardiff University & Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales).

Decolonizing collections has been at the forefront of museums for quite some time. Thinking beyond the Western museum structure, many institutions have taken new opportunities to view indigenous knowledge from indigenous perspectives by revisiting old collections of anthropological material intermixed with botanical specimens. Four years in the making, Workshop One is part of a one-year project called People and Plants: reactivating ethnobotanical collections as material archives of indigenous ecological knowledge, beginning in January 2022. It is led by National Museums Scotland, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Powell-Cotton Museum, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Entrance to Powell Cotton Museum, Birchington-on-Sea, England, Photo by Alexandra Slucky

The main aim of the project is to engage with three unique indigenous collections located in UK institutions; Somalian, Amazonian, and Aboriginal Australian. The project examines the value and relevance of ethnobotanical collections, both in the present and the future, aiming to bring academics, researchers, museum professionals, botanists and indigenous knowledge holders together in conversation. To focus on sharing authority, it gives a museum voice to women of colour through a process of reactivation, recovery, and relationships, with the result creating more inclusive conditions for future collections.

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NatSCA Digital Digest – September

Compiled by Olivia Beavers, Assistant Curator of Natural Science at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

Welcome to the September 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

What to do

As we move into the new school year, The Grantham Climate Art Prize is calling for messages of hope from young people on climate change – ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this November. This is an opportunity for young people aged 12-25 to raise awareness for our precious habitats and send a message of hope through designing a mural to go onto walls across the UK – and be in for a chance to win £250 cash!  The theme of this competition is Biodiversity Loss and Climate Change. Click here to learn more – entries by 24.09.21.

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