Update: ICOM NATHIST Archive Project

Old booksIt is with a mixture of pride and relief that we announce that ICOM NATHIST has finished its long-awaited archive project, an initiative to get all the past publications of the Committee onto the web. They now appear on our Archive Page. Our past President, Dr. Gerhard Winter, was instrumental in making these files available and assisting with their uploading. The Documentation Centre at the ICOM Secretariat was also very helpful, especially with the earlier volumes, which stretch back to 1978.

Next Steps: Newsletters have not been produced since 2012, while at the same time the activities of the Committee have continued to grow. Our intention is to revisit these activities and create retrospectively an annual edition of the newsletter for each of the years 2013 through 2016, and then at least once annually going forward.

At the same time, National Taiwan Museum is generously creating a history of ICOM NATHIST, which beautifully encapsulates the many achievements of the Committee over the last decades. In the event that this large document is available in PDF, we will make it available as part of the archive.

This compendium of information, both as a history and as individual newsletters highlights the passion and dedication of a great many people over almost half a century. It’s fitting and timely that this record is made widely available.



Survey on partnerships between zoos and museums


ICOM NATHIST has joined with the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) to explore ways that the two sectors can work more closely to conserve global natural heritage, advance research and more effectively engage our joint public.

We want to hear from you! Please take five minutes to fill out the survey at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8MBJLGX

As we have agreed a number of times within our conference presentations, publications and in conversations, we can’t achieve our goals alone. This survey helps to pave the way for synergies that will strengthen all of our communities.

How will we use this information?

ICOM NATHIST and WAZA will use your ideas and suggestions to develop joint initiatives that will have tangible benefits to our sector. These might take the form of joint publications, research projects within individual institutions, joint programming or resource sharing. The specific information you give will be shared between WAZA and ICOM NATHIST administration only and will not be provided to any third party.

For any questions directly to ICOM NATHIST, please use the form on our contact page.

2016 Annual Conference

The 2016 annual conference of ICOM NATHIST was held in Milan, Italy, as part of the ICOM triennial General Assembly. The Board of ICOM NATHIST would like to thank our conference and venue hosts, as well as the members for making this a memorable meeting.

The theme for the conference was Natural History Museums in Cultural Landscapes.

Natural history institutions are repositories of natural material, frozen in time becoming evidence for environments that are no longer there. They are a conduit for creating authentic connections between people and the natural world and landscapes. They build new knowledge about species and the environments they inhabit. Through their exhibits, programs, collections, research and conservation action, natural history museums help to address a growing disconnect between humanity and the global ecosystems that sustain all life on earth, including people.

As visitor-based institutions they must be attuned to the topics that engage the public, the most effective modes of communication, as well as paying attention to whether their messages were adequately received. They are important part of the cultural landscape of contemporary societies and one sector full of opportunities and innovation. The 2016 conference of ICOM NATHIST will explore the latest achievements in these relationships.

Conference papers and minutes from the annual general meeting will be published in due course. Meanwhile, please enjoy these photos from the meeting, as well as some of the cultural events to which the participants were invited.

ICOM NATHIST 2017 program for 8 July


The program has been set for ICOM NATHIST for the 8th of July. It promises to be a very interesting trip in a beautiful part of the country.

  • 8.00  departure from Milan – (location to be confirmed) and travel by long distance bus
  • 11.00 arrival to Trento –  visit MUSE & bag lunch (please bring your own)
  • 14.00 departure to Bolzano
  • 15.00 start visit at Oetzi Museum or Museum of Nature South Tyrol (to be determined)
  • 17.00 free time in town for drink and snacks (please bring your own, or money to purchase it)
  • 18.00 departure for Milan
  • 21.15 arrival at Milan railway station


The cost of the trip will be covered by ICOM NATHIST, however it will be necessary to bring your own refreshments. We will give you more details at the beginning of the conference.

An opportunity for you to register for this trip will be provided at the beginning of the conference.

Photos: MUSE; Trento, Museum of Nature South Tyrol, Bolzano

UMAC/NATHIST Symposium on Human Remains 7 July in Turin

UMAC logoICOM NATHIST will join forces with ICOM’s International Committee for University and Museum Collections (UMACon a symposium on human remains.

As you have probably already seen in the program, UMAC will have its off-site day in Turin. The program includes a special session on human remains in university collections and visits to the local university museums, in particular to the Museo Lombroso and to the Museum of Human Anatomy.

This is symposium especially relevant to members of ICOM NATHIST, as many natural history museums actively collect and display human remains. Although the ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums covers standards for this activity, the topic has yet to be covered cohesively for our sector. As part of the day’s activities, we will hear from members of ICOM NATHIST who will present on case studies and legislation.

As we need to book buses to go from Milan to Turin, we have to know how many people will participate to the day. Due to the cost of the buses, there is a registration fee of of 20 Euros to those who will participate (to be paid cash in Milan).


A number of members have expressed the desire to get back to Milano in time for evening functions. There will be two busses. The ICOM NATHIST bus will take back any members of either NATHIST or UMAC who wish to come back earlier. We will organize the exact time on the morning of the excursion. Please come to the trip with your itinerary. We will not be able to wait for people who are late for the first return trip.

An opportunity for you to register for this trip will be provided at the beginning of the conference.

2016 ICOM NATHIST Board Nominations

vote.jpgAt our 2016 Annual General Meeting, we will vote in the members of the Board of ICOM NATHIST. All position are up for re-election, and all current members are standing for another 3-year term. Any ICOM NATHIST member in good standing may run for any position. There are also additional “Member at Large” positions that can be elected this year.

Download the nomination form at this link ICOM NATHIST 2016 Board Nomination Form THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING A NOMINATION FORM IS 15 JUNE 2016. Please submit your form by the deadline to Lynda Knowles, Secretary ICOM NATHIST Lynda.Knowles@dmns.org

ICOM NATHIST and SPNHC Formalize Collaborations

Logo-SPNHCsmThe International Council of Museums Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural History (ICOM NATHIST) and the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to advance the aims of both organizations. Among the initiatives covered in the MOU are:

  • Mutual ex officio representation on the respective Boards of the two parties
  • Collaboration on conferences
  • Joint initiatives and projects

A major impetus for creating this agreement is to give greater weight to the natural history museum sector in the face of increasing global environmental degradation, ever greater interest and engagement from the public and pressure to increase activity with fewer resources.

Dr. Eric Dorfman, President of ICOM NATHIST, cited the benefits of an arrangement like this. “This agreement will give each of our organizations the chance to expand our focus, while keeping true to our core missions. We’re delighted to welcome the presence of a like-minded group in our midst and look forward to making a contribution to their endeavors.”

Andrew Bentley, President of SPNHC said, “This is a great opportunity for the collections community to function in a more coordinated fashion and collaborate on issues of joint concern and mutual benefit.  With numerous other such agreements in place with other like-minded societies and organizations, we have the possibility of creating a world-wide group that can advocate for collections and create meaningful relationships that can have a huge impact on the health and future of collections.”

SPNHC has engaged Kelly Sendall of the Royal BC Museum in Canada as our representative to ICOM NATHIST. The SPNHC website has considerable resources and is well worth getting to know.