How do you lift a whale, pack a bear, or keep molecular samples at sub-zero temperatures as they navigate the M4? Welcome to my world, the world of the Harwell Moves Project Manager at the Natural History Museum…
Moves management is not really a job you come across on a regular basis, and when I get asked how I ended up in this career it can sometimes be a little awkward to say it was somewhat influenced by my love of Prince. Yes, that Prince, 80s visionary, Purple Rain pioneer and all-time legend. But I must admit that when I was given the option in one of my first roles at the National Archives of either going on archive management training or a PRINCE2 course (a methodology used for project management), it was obvious what I’d choose…
Last year I had the privilege of joining the museum to manage the exciting, if slightly daunting(!), move of millions of specimens to our new science and digitisation centre at Harwell Campus (you can find out more about the project here). This is a huge 6-year programme which will involve moving some of the biggest and smallest specimens on the planet, and over the past few months we’ve been starting to plan how we might go about achieving it.
There are so many ways to take part in City Nature Challenge it can be difficult to know where to start if you are new to observing nature. Observations of any living things count towards City Nature Challenge but here are six species that Museum scientists and friends are particularly interested in. If you see any of these let us know by taking a photograph and uploading to iNaturalist. Photographs and identification tips are also available as a downloadable Species to Spot guide (PDF 330KB).
The City Nature Challenge returns to London for a fourth year!
Over the last year many of us have had the chance to explore our local areas like never before. What have you spotted on your daily walks? Have you seen plants popping up in unexpected places, or is there a particular tree that you have watched transform through the seasons, or an unusual insect you have observed in your nearest park?
Whatever it is, we want you to share what you have seen and join this year’s City Nature Challenge.
This year I’m writing a diary entry each month for a typical week in the life of a Principal Curator at the Natural History Museum. In the March entry, one of my discoveries appears on the front cover of a journal, pebbles bought at the Rock, Mineral and Fossil show in Tucson are registered, images of fossil fish scales bring back fond memories, I uncover a specimen from Sloane’s original British Museum collection and a departmental reshuffle means a change in role.
Dead oysters – not something you think will have much of an impact on your life, but in this case I must be the exception to the rule. In 1987 I found myself in Jamaica, working on an initiative at the University of the West Indies to develop low technology oyster culture. One of my tasks was to understand why oyster mortality was so high – it was also what prompted my first experience of science, and with scientists, at the Natural History Museum.
Museum Archives have the important role of documenting and recording the work of an organisation, as ours have since we opened in 1881. For the Natural History Museum, the Archives also illustrate the role that the collections and staff have had in wider social and cultural history, both nationally and internationally. In this intriguing story from our collections, Assistant Archivist Kathryn Rooke looks at the impact of fashion trends on the natural world, and how our staff contributed to an important change in the law.
It’s been a year since we had to first close the doors of the Museum due to the pandemic, and like the rest of our colleagues, the Digital Collections Programme (DCP) team have adjusted to the world of video calls, furlough and working from home. Despite these challenges, in 2020 the team imaged 72,000 specimens, transcribed data from 85,000 specimens and georeferenced 17,000 specimens, giving us plenty of progress to reflect on from this challenging year. Over 25 billion data records have now been downloaded from the Data Portal and GBIF in over 360,000 download events, and remote working has only further highlighted the pertinence of digitising collections and making them accessible to the world.
This year I’m writing a diary entry each month for a typical week in the life of a Principal Curator at the Natural History Museum. In the February entry I cover working in the fabulous Minerals Gallery, helping my PhD student using a mobile phone down a microscope, Zoom fail during a talk to a local Geological Society, writing a digital strategy and finishing a paper about the assessment of the entire museum collection.
In previous blogs I have outlined how the launch of our new strategy, has really galvanised our action on equality, inclusion and diversity.
Since my last post, we have appointed a new Head of Diversity and Talent who will take the lead in creating a working environment which is truly inclusive and in diversifying our workforce.
Since April, we have advertised as many roles as possible internally only, to allow for promotion. We know there is far greater diversity, particularly in terms of ethnicity, in our lower grade jobs so we want to offer opportunities for promotion wherever we can and since April 2020 40% of roles have been offered to internal candidates.