Posted by: henrymcghie | June 16, 2014

Conference on natural history museums and environmental sustainability, June 2015


Hello, I’m organising a two-day meeting, to be held at Manchester Museum on 18-19 June 2015. The meeting is titled ‘Refloating the Ark: Connecting the public and scientists with natural history museums’. This will explore how natural history museums can contribute towards environmental sustainability, by engaging effectively with the public and the scientific research community.

Call for presentations

I am looking for suggestions for presentations and workshops relating to the themes outlined below. Any format of session will be considered. Sessions should be 20–30 minutes in length; panel discussions and workshops may be longer. Presentations may draw on case studies, critical evaluations, innovations and projects from any sector. Suggestions from organisations of any size and groups of organisations are welcomed.


This meeting is underwritten by the belief that natural history museums can make a real difference, both to people’s lives and to the conservation of species, habitats and the wider environment. The intention of the meeting is to support high-quality public engagement with nature and environmental sustainability through museums, and to promote the use of natural history collections for scientific research and environmental monitoring. It is aimed at museum workers, environmental educators, conservationists, scientific researchers, amateur naturalists, funders and the biological recording community.


Day 1: Engaging the public with environmental sustainability in natural history museums

At a time when many species and habitats are at risk, there are widespread concerns about how people make sense of and engage with the environment and environmental issues.  There is relatively little information available on how museums can contribute to this situation.

  • How can natural history museums effectively connect audiences with nature and environmental issues, and what can they learn from other sectors?
  • How can natural history museums promote pro-environmental behaviour and what responsibilities do they have to do so?
  • How can natural history museums and collections support citizen science and lifelong learning about nature?
  • What parts can art, science and literature play in museums to promote environmental awareness and pro-environmental behaviour?


Day 2: Connecting natural history collections with scientific research

Many natural history collections are disconnected from scientific research, meaning that collections that could usefully contribute to species and habitat conservation are ‘beneath the radar’.

  • How can museums increase the visibility of collections on a shoestring?
  • What future do collections have as scientific infrastructure?
  • How can museums tap into experts—both amateur and professional?
  • How can museums connect with biological recording and environmental monitoring (lessons and opportunities)?
  • How can partnerships support museums to increase the use of their collections?
  • How can museums benefit from research funding—and where is it?

A wrap-up session at the end of each day will explore the subject of ‘Natural history museums: where do we want to head to next?’ in terms of the themes of the two days.

Please send an outline/summary of your proposal, including which themes it connects with, an outline of content and a suggested format to Henry McGhie at by 1st October 2014. Please get in touch if you have any questions.



  1. Reblogged this on The Leaky Buffalo and commented:
    This looks like a great opportunity to draw more attention to the value of natural history collections which are too often overlooked! Penciling it into my 2015 calendar…

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: