This one day workshop will explore how to care for, store and enable access to insect collections, from butterflies and moths to beetles and bugs. These collections can be complex, fragile and obscure; it is difficult to recognise their significance without specialist knowledge. The session will outline where to start with your collection – how to understand it from the way it is pinned to handwriting on labels, how to recognise signs that it is at risk and practical steps you can take to safeguard it. It will also touch on access by researchers, health and safety, and what legal protection for some species means for your collection. The workshop will be delivered through practical exercises, demonstrations, tips, tools and templates, and include a tour of the significant stored insect collections at Torquay Museum.
The workshop is part of the John Ellerman Foundation funded SWANS (South West Area Natural Sciences) collections project, supporting skills and networks for museums and heritage organisations who hold publicly available natural sciences collections in the South West region. It follows foundation workshop An Introduction to Working with Natural Sciences Collections delivered by the project team in April 2016 and is accompanied by other sessions in the programme on environment & pests; handling, packaging and storage of natural sciences collections; cleaning natural sciences specimens and display of natural history collections.
Participating institutions which have signed the project's charter will receive a FREE take-home kit of materials and tools to support them to implement learning.
Who should attend?
Staff and volunteers who work with or manage natural sciences collections in the museum and heritage sector in the south west region. The session is suitable for those who have no or limited experience of working with these collections, or would like refresher training.
Max. 15 delegates
What will you learn?
By the end of the session you will be able to:
- Describe the different elements in your institution’s insect collection and identify items of particular significance
- Safely handle insect specimens using specialist tools
- Identify specimens most at risk of damage from environment, pests or storage
- Prioritise and take practical steps to prevent or control damage
- Interpret and document insect collections data
- Describe how these collections can be used for display, research and learning
- Answer common enquiries and know where to go for specialist identification advice
- Identify species protected by legislation and what this means for your collection
- Recognise when specialist intervention is required
The course supports the following Requirements of the Accreditation Standard:
2.4 Care and Conservation Policy and 2.6 Care and Conservation Plan – your Policy must be based on a combination of preventive and remedial conservation, so it is essential to know how far to go when treating an object. The techniques you will learn will enable you to draw up a practical Care and Conservation Plan that sets out procedures and identifies actions to improve collections care in your museum.
Rhian Rowson is a natural history curator at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery with 15 years’ experience and a broad knowledge in collections care, but fundamentally she is a naturalist with a passion for insects! Rhian is an active member of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society. She collects, identifies, records and shares valuable information on insects through talks, lectures, workshops, identification keys, displays and out in the community through BioBlitzs and festivals. Rhian actively curates Bristol’s vast historic and modern insect collections, regularly delivering lectures and workshops on the subject for University students, museum staff caring for natural history collections and volunteers.
Ray Barnett is Head of Collections & Archives for Bristol City Council’s Culture Team managing the team of curators, conservators, documentation specialists and archivists. With over 30 years’ experience of working in museums, Ray has maintained his interest in entomology throughout his career initially as a natural history curator and despite being a manager for the last 20 years. A Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, Ray continues to promote entomological study and recording in the Bristol region in his spare time through field meetings and publications. Although having spent the majority of his career in Bristol he has also worked at museums in Coventry, Leicester and Ipswich and, as a student, at the Natural History Museum.
Helena Jaeschke is an accredited conservator (PACR) who provides advice and support on collection care to the museums of the southwest as the SWMDP Conservation Development Officer. She has worked on a range of natural science specimens including geology, invertebrates, fossil and sub-fossil material, taxidermy, bone and shell, as well as associated scientific models and instruments. She has been providing training for museums since 2005. She is a Fellow of the International Institute of Conservation.
Isla Gladstone SWANS project lead and Senior Curator for natural sciences at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, and Roz Bonnet Museum Development Support Officer for SWMDP will also be on hand for the day.
Please note: refreshments will be provided, but attendees should bring lunch or use the museum café.