Why biobanking is key to preserving biodiversity | Jacqueline Mackenzie-Dodds, Molecular Collections Facility Manager

Jackie Mackenzie-Dodds (in full cryo-gear!) decanting liquid nitrogen from the Molecular Collection Facility’s LN2 bulk tank. Copyright: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.

Although estimates of extinction rates vary significantly [1], anywhere from losing hundreds to hundreds of thousands of species each year, it is widely acknowledged that we are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. Ensuring we deliver a wide range of conservation measures to protect species is key to halting this decline across all taxonomic groups. A growing area of research is focussing on biobanking as an effective way to deliver this. But what does this mean in practice, how does it work and why is it important?

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Legacies from letters | International Women’s Day 2022

As International Women’s Day drew closer, and with preparations for the move of millions of collections well underway, it got me thinking about the role women played in the original 1881 move of collections from the British Museum in Bloomsbury to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, as well as their contributions to the early development of the collections and research.

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What does moving 28 million specimens actually mean? | Katy Hudson and Ellie Clark, Collections Move Team Leaders

Katy and Ellie collecting data on some of the 28 million specimens that will be on the move.

In 2021 the Museum revealed plans to relocate 28 million specimens (approximately a third of the collection) from our stores to a new, purpose-built science and digitisation centre, to ensure their safety and accessibility for future generations. This mammoth undertaking has been enabled through a £182m investment from the Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. So, with funding secured, how do you set about planning not only our largest ever collections’ move, but arguably one of the largest collections’ moves ever carried out worldwide?

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Specimens to Solutions: A Glimpse into Collections and Research | Kathryn Gibbons, Scientific Partnerships Manager

Many of us associate the Natural History Museum at South Kensington with Hope the Whale, Dippy the Diplodocus and other inspiring exhibitions and stories about the natural world – but did you know that behind the scenes of this iconic building there are 300 scientists and 200 postgraduate students publishing over 500 scientific papers annually? That there are leading laboratories with technical experts imaging, analysing and preserving life on earth? Or that we are working towards digitising all 80 million specimens housed in the museum’s invaluable collection stores (less than 1% of collections are on display) to further open them up for research?

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Sustainability Makes Sense – New Year, New Targets | Kimberley Lewis, Interim Head of Sustainability

Plant with globe growing out of it

Sustainability. Makes. Sense.

To me, environmental management and sustainability has always made sense for organisations – if we work more efficiently and waste less of everything, we can reduce the negative impacts on our environment as well as save both time and money. No brainer, right?

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Looking back on the year of science | Tim Littlewood, Executive Director of Science

One of the key aims of creating the Natural History Museum at Harwell is to expand and accelerate the science we do and enable. Whether this is by digitising our collections to make them easier to discover, opening them up to more researchers and wider audiences than ever before, developing new technologies and facilities to uncover new information about the natural world, or delivering innovative research that revolutionises our understanding of biodiversity, nature, and the future of life on Earth. Our ambitions are big. As such, I thought a great way to round out the year would be to look back at some of the huge achievements of scientists and their collaborators across the Museum in 2021.

From ancient humans to tools for biodiversity monitoring and with pit stops via genome sequencing, this is only a snapshot of the hundreds of papers, new species descriptions, policy contributions and funding awards that have been achieved this year. Enjoy!

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Equality, Diversity and Inclusion update | Executive Director of Engagement

Over the last few months, we have welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors through our doors, opened our hugely popular Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition and celebrated the end of the smash hit tour of our famous dinosaur Dippy at Norwich Cathedral.

We hosted a Nature Bar event space in Glasgow during COP26 in collaboration with our Ambassador David de Rothschild and his organisation Voice for Nature. As part of The New York Times Climate Hub, the Nature Bar gave visitors and delegates an opportunity to connect with the Museum’s solutions-focused science and a fantastically diverse line-up of young activists, explorers, artists and business leaders. 

A standout session for me was seeing our Biodiversity Researcher Dr Adriana De Palma discussing the pressures on our planet with DJ, music producer and environmental toxicologist Jayda G and activists Daphne Frias and Phoebe Hanson (Operations Director for Force of Nature) – a stellar panel and a fascinating discussion.

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