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.

Update on the Japan Earthquake

JCSM LogoMany across the museum sector are concerned about the welfare of Japanese heritage after the recent sever earthquakes. We have received the following update:

The JCSM (Japan Council of Science Museums) Secretariat checked, at least two nature science museums had serious damage. In the Kumamoto prefecture, there are 4 member museums. The other member museums in the Kyushu are safe.


  1. The Kumamoto City Museum at the Kumamoto Castle area had considerable damage to the land on which the museum sits. The facility has been temporarily closed for renovations and it is not yet clear whether they will reopen on schedule. They are checking their collections for damage.http://webkoukai-server.kumamoto-kmm.ed.jp/web/index.shtml
  2. The Mifune dinosaur museum only slightly damanaged. A fossilized dinosaur head dropped off its skeleton and broke. Colleagues from the National Museumof  Science and Nature (Kahaku) are providing assitance.http://www.mifunemuseum.jp/index.php
  3. The Goshoura Cretaceous museum has not been extensively damanaged.http://gcmuseum.ec-net.jp/
  4. The Aso Volcano Museum has been damaged and the main access route is still closed. And they are maintaining watch on the the large volcano, Mt. Aso, for any concerning activity. http://www.asomuse.jp/


Ref. 1. For pictures of Kumamoto earthquakes; https://www.google.co.jp/search?q=%E7%86%8A%E6%9C%AC%E5%9C%B0%E9%9C%87&biw=1195&bih=778&tbm=isch&source=lnms&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiAu6Ljm9zMAhWHW5QKHeFRBfAQ_AUICCgD

Ref. 2. About the earthquakes in Japan; http://www.hinet.bosai.go.jp/hypomap/?ft=1&LANG=en


We’re grateful to JCSM and our colleagues in Japan for keeping us posted on what is happening.

Global Thunderclap for International Day for Biological Diversity

ThunderClap_CoverImageThe World Association of Zoos and Aquariums is organizing a worldwide “Thunderclap” to support the International Day for Biological Diversity on the themeThe Pyramid of Life”

The Biodiversity is Us project wants to make as much noise as possible this year to raise awareness on biodiversity loss. What makes this year so special? WAZA prepared animated short just over 1-minute-long titled “The Pyramid of Life”. The animated short will premiere on May 22nd 2016.

The message? The Pyramid of Life illustrates the importance of all life on our planet. Whether we look at it from the top, or from the bottom of the food chain, our lives depend on the diversity of life on earth!

WAZA Needs Your Help!

What is a ‘thunderclap’? Thunderclap is a “crowd-speaking” platform that lets individuals and organizations rally people together to spread a message. On Thunderclap, backers donate tweets and social media posts rather than money. Think of it as an “online flash mob.” Join our Thunderclap this year and you and others will share the message to speak up on behalf of Biodiversity, on the 22nd of May (World Biodiversity Day) via Facebook and Twitter.

Please sign up today (and better yet, share this information with your friends and colleagues) to help them reach our goal of at least 100 individual signatures. It will only take a minute of your time.

The Thunderclap will be sent out on 22 May 2016. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP NOW: http://thndr.me/pZkWR7