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Natural History Collections Working Group Triennial Programme 2020-2023

Natural History Collections Working Group Triennial Programme 2020-2023

Specific themes for investigation/ideas

  • Sustainability
    • Encourage members to share their sustainability ideas on the website and social media
    • Increase the knowledge of sustainable materials
  • Alternative materials for natural history collections where conservation supplies are not available
    • Encourage the members to share which materials they use in their countries, making clear we are interested in material composition and not in brands or manufacturers
    • Communicate which materials have been tested for safety of specimens, artifacts and users
    • Open discussions on testing, results and proposal of new methodologies
    • Natural history collections have such broad range of materials, that we will encourage the exchange of information on what people use for mounting microscope slides, storing fluid collections, taxidermy, fossils, skins, botany specimens, anthropology artifacts and even field notebooks and photographs
    • Smaller institutions and those in developing nations or places with low access to conservation supplies have to buy materials that may be used for more than one type of collection, so we will be interested in finding those types of solutions
  • Environment management in collections
    • Most environmental parameters set in manuals and publications relate to art collections, archives and libraries, only commenting on natural history collections
    • Do research on specific parameters for each type of collection
    • Focus on passive and sustainable ways to achieve or come close to those parameters



  • Further or initiate collaborations with the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC), ICOM NATHIST, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) and the Association for Materials and Methods in Paleontology (AMMP), and others the membership may suggest
    • Contact members from these organizations and develop projects we could work on together
    • Since our membership is small and scattered, meetings are challenging. However, teaming up with one of these organizations to celebrate a joint meeting could be a motivation factor (and budget justification for funding) to organize a meeting and publish proceedings


  • Publish an annual newsletter
  • Develop Facebook and LinkedIn groups to see which the membership prefers
    • Make the sharing of news and websites more fluid
    • Promote discussion and ideas, troubleshooting and reach out for help
    • Differentiate group e-mails from social media. Our e-mails will remain our main means of communication, especially for announcements that need to reach the whole group without exception. They will also be a place where members can share information that may be too sensitive for Facebook or LinkedIn (information that museums or their staff may not be comfortable with sharing in social media, like issues with how the materials arrived from donors or the difficulties some employees may have with budgets, etc.).
  • Create “blog style” documents for the website
    • Short articles like those found in blogs are the most effective when sharing information on the internet, due to the fact that they are read quickly and have concise information. Since the website does not have a blog section, we will create short articles that resemble those found in blogs to address the topics the membership is interested in
    • We will share links to the articles via e-mail and also on our social media platforms to engage the membership in discussion of these topics and proposal of new ones. By doing this and not posting directly on social media, we are also adding traffic to the website. 


  • Promote the group internationally, especially with non-conservators and in underrepresented areas
    • Reach out via email to specific institutions (museums and other collections) to introduce us as a group and attract interested members
    • Encourage membership by those individuals and institutions to make our membership grow
    • Include new members in our “Alternative materials” initiative, so we can learn what has been used in these countries and how we can help them find archival and non-hazardous options
  • Advocate for collaborations between institutions and departments within institutions
    • Work so that the group becomes a place of reference between institutions and departments within those institutions to reduce a culture of information silos
  • Emerging Professionals
    • Send a survey to understand what the needs of our Emerging Professionals are and identify members who would like to be mentors
    • Ask on the survey what topics our members are interested in, to help develop the “blog style” documents and find members who would want to write