ICOM NATHIST undertakes projects to increase scientific understanding of natural history, promulgate best practice, and involve museums in conserving the world’s wildlife. Following are some of the projects we have been involved with.

Platform 2022 logoPlatform 2022 is a partnership between ICOM NATHIST, The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Botanic Gardens International. Created in response to the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the initiative presents the “Vienna Statement”, encouraging the world’s governments to use the sound science provided by collecting institutions when making decisions around sustainable development. The project includes a free downloadable exhibition of beautiful wildlife photography.

INH bookIntangible Natural Heritage The topic of intangible natural heritage is new, recently emerging as an important subject of inquiry. It describes the untouchable elements of the environment that combine to create natural objects, and help define our relationship to them. These elements can be sensory, like auditory landscapes, or processes like natural selection. As a concept, intangible natural heritage is growing in prominence, as museums are increasingly charged safeguarding and interpreting the milieux from which their objects originate. This book is a significant advance on the subject of intangible natural heritage; no book on the topic has yet been written and current scholarship is confined to a few isolated papers. As such, there exists a wide variety of perspectives on the topic. Intangible Natural Heritage presents a spectrum of opinion, making the first attempt at a unifying concept on which future work can be based. Authors from Europe, Asia, Australasia, Britain, and North America, address topics on scales from minute insects to sweeping landscapes. The common thread in these explorations is the importance of human relationships with nature that is passed down from generation to generation. In a world that is becoming increasingly fragile, recognizing and fostering these relationships has never been more vital.

animal_skulls_for_sale__by_anacita-d6988p9The Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums The ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums, created by the International Committee NATHIST, was ratified during the ICOM General Assembly on August 17th. The objective of this document is to set ethical standards on specific issues that natural history museums face. It aims to establish a minimum standard of practice, which can be built upon by individual institutions. The ICOM NATHIST Code of Ethics sets forth a position statement that explains the purpose of natural history museums and their responsibilities. It then focuses on the specific challenges of natural history museums in six sections:
  1. The care and display of human remains.
  2. The collection, display and storage of extinct and recently extinct organism specimens.
  3. The proper collection of rocks, minerals and fossils.
  4. The deposition and repatriation of natural history specimens, as well as data sharing and value-added activities such as object conservation and stabilisation.
  5. The duty of care for people and objects, including occupational safety and health, the exchange of objects and best practice guidelines for storage and handling.
  6. The need for collected natural history data to be published in order to fully disseminate this work to the scientific community.

Appendix I lists the ICOM NATHIST 2006 Ethics Working Group that contributed to the formation of this document and Appendix II provides standards for taxidermy.

The English version of this document can be found online here. French and Spanish versions will be posted as soon as they are available.


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