Arabic and Persian plant names in the Codex Vindobonensis | Curator of Botany

The Codex Vindobonenis is a Byzantine compendium of pharmaceutical knowledge produced in around 512 C.E.. In this blog, Hanouf Al-Alawi and botany curator John Hunnex discuss their recent project examining the overlooked Arabic and Persian annotations on the plant descriptions included in the work.

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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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Data in Action: British butterflies body size changes in response to climate change | Digital Collections Programme

Drawer of Silver-studded blue (Plebejus argus) butterflies from the Museum’s collection

A brand new scientific paper applies computer vision to over 125,000 of the Museum’s digitised Butterfly collection to understand how animals may respond to climate change.

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Ananse, Wisdom, and the World of Trees: Working in partnership with our local audiences  | Urban Nature Project

Pupils show off some of their creations

Connecting audiences with nature is at the heart of everything we do.  Thanks to money from National Lottery players, we are working on the Urban Nature Project to transform our gardens and visitor experiences at the NHM.

We have been connecting with our local community to help shape what goes into the new activities in the gardens, what stories of people, plants and animals should be shared, and how the activities should look and feel.

Lauren Hyams, the Museum’s Head of Urban Nature Project Activities tells us more about this work…

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Creating world-leading biologically diverse gardens at the Museum | Urban Nature Project

The Natural History Museum’s Urban Nature Project team have been working hard preparing for the landmark re-development of the Museum’s five-acre gardens into a welcoming, accessible and biologically diverse green space.  

Thanks to money from National Lottery players, we’ve made great strides in our plans for this exciting new space. The gardens will close to the public from July 2022 to allow major works to take place, but plenty has been going on behind the scenes to lay the groundwork and ensure sustainability and biodiversity are at the heart of these new gardens. Louise Simmons, Senior Project Manager working on the development of the new gardens tells us about some of the progress made to date… 

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Collecting the West and the NHM Petrology collection | Curator of Petrology

As part of “Collecting the West”, an Australian Research Council funded research project that is looking at what’s been collected from Western Australia and what these collections tell us about who Western Australians were, researchers Tiffany Shellam (History, Deakin University) and Alistair Paterson (Archaeology, University of Western Australia) studied the NHM petrology collection. One of the project partners is the British Museum, whose relationship to these early collections and shared history with the NHM is reflected in the catalogue code ‘B.M.’ seen on the specimens in these drawers.

Among the old wooden cabinets, storing historical specimens from around the world, they have encountered various early collections from the period 1818-1860.

The inspection of this collection of Western Australian specimens allowed the researchers to understand the reasons for collecting rock specimens and their findings were published in the article “A historical stratum of geological collections from Western Australia in the Natural History Museum, London” in the journal Studies in Western Australian History.

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Shackleton, Sponges and a Strange Case of Mistaken Identity | Earth Sciences

Author– Andrew Tucker

Hello there, my name is Andrew. For the last few months, I have had the privilege to assist the Natural History Museum as a Curatorial Assistant, digitising the information of a group of fossil sponges, the lithistids, a polyphyletic group that does not share a common ancestor and, at this moment, is the object of numerous studies. I am also curating the specimens, re-boxing them with new acid-free trays and plastazote foam.

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922), the famed Antarctic explorer. Image BHL, “South: the story of Shackleton’s last expedition, 1914-1917”.

When I read in the news on Wednesday 9 March that the Shackleton Expedition’s ship, the Endurance, had been found I mentioned it to my manager, Senior Curator of Fossil Porifera Collection, Dr. Consuelo Sendino. She recalled that there were fossil sponge specimens gathered by Shackleton in the museum’s collections.

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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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Breaking the Bias with Grace Mary Crowfoot: Botanist, Archaeologist, and Advocate for Women’s Rights | Digital Collections Programme

A guest blog by Larissa Welton

This International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate the incredible achievements of Grace Mary Crowfoot, a botanist, textile archaeologist, anthropologist, and pioneering anti-FGM advocate and to share her story of breaking biases and fighting inequality for women.

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