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 April entry, we are offered a large microfossil collection, I review a paper about left and right coiling microfossils, help prospective visitors to apply for funds, provide some images to help university remote teaching and have a virtual meeting with our new director.
Imagine inspecting millions of specimens collected over hundreds of years to check the correct information is recorded on the database, including where they are located. If it doesn’t exist in the database, imagine having to individually enter the correct information for these millions of specimens. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, imagine being timed while you do it. This is happening right now in a pilot study at the Museum’s South London storage facility, in preparation for the biggest move of specimens since the Museum opened in 1881.
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.
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.
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 January entry I cover the return to work after Christmas, home schooling, the return of Dippy, news of a possible move of the collection in my charge to Harwell and a rare trip into S Kensington.
Laura Jacklin is on secondment as the Communications Manager for the Digital Collections Programme. A few weeks in, she shares her first impressions.
I’ve worked at the Museum for three years, but moving from the marketing team to the Digital Collections Programme has felt like I’ve entered a parallel universe – it’s the Museum, but not as I know it!
2020 has been a difficult year and since March we have been working away from the collections in South Kensington. Learning new on-line communication skills has created opportunities for making our collections available to a wider audience.
Read on to find how using Microsoft Teams and a Nikon microscope we have remotely delivered access to our Micropalaeontology collections for the first time.