Posted by: henrymcghie | March 20, 2014

Nature and museums

Hello- I’m in Oslo this week, talking at two seminars at the University on museums and nature. The first talk was on natural history museums, social responsibility and the natural environment. There has been a bit of questioning in the UK as to whether museums should be campaigning to support and protect the environment. This seems like a real no-brainer to me, as museums should be using their collections to engage people with objects and ideas about the world around them. It’s too easy for museums to become ‘a nice afternoon out’- if people are looking for more than that, we should be able to support them with their interests.

The second talk was on some of the ways that we have been rethinking natural history/natural sciences (or whatever you want to call it) in Manchester Museum. We’ve been very fortunate to secure funding recently for two major galleries (Living Worlds, 2011, Nature’s Library, 2013), refurbishment of a third (the Vivarium) and are currently working on a fourth (The Study). We’ve had an allotment, adult training course in wildlife recording, temporary exhibitions (with another coming soon in April) and more besides. My own interest lies in looking at how museums can articulate/rearticulate the messages they give out about people and nature, in order to better engage people with the world around them.


  1. At the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (USA), their Natural Areas Program involves buying property with unique habitats (bogs, fens, etc.). In essence, they’re creating a living collection of ecosystems. The gallery is nature itself. How’s that for engaging?

  2. Hello, my name is Anneke Groen and I am a master of museology student from the Netherlands (Reinwardt Academy) and currently working on my thesis, which deals with the role of natural history museums in a comtemporary context. I would love to hear the talks you recently gave in Oslo. Is it possible to find them on internet?
    Kind regards,
    Anneke Groen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: