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Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

1st Edition

Care and Management of Natural History Collections

November 14th-18th, 2016, Barcelona (Spain)

Care and Management of Natural History Collections

Using a combination of lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and readings, this course will teach participants how to better care for and manage all natural history collections (including botany, geosciences, and zoology).

The importance of the collections storage environment is emphasized, as well as the identification and selection of inert materials, testing locally available materials, adapting collections care standards to particular environmental conditions, and good management through sound policies and collection planning.

Rather than the traditional discipline-based approach, the course teaches collections care based on collection material and preparation type―dry preparations, wet preparations, and documentation (including paper-based and electronic media).

The course will benefit individuals who already have experience in caring for natural history collections, as well as those who intend to work with natural history collections.


Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont

Edificio Z, ICTA-ICP
C/ de les Columnes, s/ nº
Campus de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Barcelona.




40 hours on-site.

This course is equivalent to 2 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) at the Life Science Zurich Graduate School and ForBio.

The recognition of ECTS by other institutions depends on each university or school.


Places are limited to 30 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate at the end of it.


Greg McDonald instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Greg McDonald
Bureau of Land Management
United States of America

John E. Simmons instructor for Transmitting Science

John E. Simmons
United States of America


Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno instructor at Transmitting Science

Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno
Transmitting Science

Judit Marigó coordinator at Transmitting Science

Dr. Judit Marigó
Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle / Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont
France / Spain


Monday, November 14th, 2016.

  • Introduction.
  • History of natural history collections and specimen preservation.
  • Categories of collections.
  • Use and value of collections and impact on research.
  • Importance of collection-based research and specimens as research vouchers.
  • Permits, CITIES, and other laws and regulations.
  • Collection visit: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016.

  • Theoretical and conceptual bases collections management.
  • Preventive conservation in theory and practice.
  • Security issues for natural history collections.
  • Materials used for collections care.
  • Group I—Dry preserved collections and genetic samples.
    • Whole organisms and parts preserved dry or frozen.
    • Tissues.
    • Bones and teeth.
    • Invertebrate shells and exoskeletons.
    • Rocks, fossils, minerals.
    • Health and safety concerns for dry preserved specimens.
  • Collection visit: Paleontology collection at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont.

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016.

Thursday, November 17th, 2016.

  • Collection visit: Botanical and Historical Collections, and Botanical Garden at the Institut Botànic de Barcelona.
  • Group III—Documentation.
    • Paper based records.
    • Film and tape based records.
    • Electronic records (databases).
    • Molds and casts.
    • Other media.
  • Storage environments and environmental monitoring.

Friday, November 18th, 2016.

  • Integrated pest management.
  • Professional standards and ethics.
  • Collections management policies.
  • Collection assessment.
  • Conservation assessments.
  • Collection Health Index.
  • Laboratory Sessions:
    • Beilstein test for chlorides in plastics.
    • Detection of glass deterioration.
    • Identifying glass composition with UV light.
    • Marking topping-up levels with grease pencil.
    • Use of pH testing pen on paper.
    • Use of pH indicator strips with fluid preserved specimens.
    • Estimation of lipids in fluids.
    • Smear test for printed documentation.
    • Tape test for printed documentation.
    • Atmospheric pressure demonstration.
    • Surface tension demonstration.
    • Use of visible light meter.
    • Use of ultraviolet light meter.
    • Use of sling psychrometer.
    • Use of dataloggers.
    • Discussions of other important material tests (Oddy test, estimating volatile acids from storage furniture using pH indicator strips; testing inks for lightfastness and solvent resistance).
  • Visit to Museum Blau (optional).

Transportation to the different collections will be organized by Transmitting Science, please check the Schedule.


You will find below some testimonials from former participants to previous editions of this course:

Dr. Nicholas Barbieri

“It has been a wonderful course! The experience and the knowledge of professors Greg McDonald and John E. Simmons are astonishing, and having the opportunity to learn so many things about natural history collections’ care in just one week has been amazing. The course has been organized in a perfect way, with an excellent schedule and with the ideal amount of lectures and visits of collections. Moreover, facing with other people with so various expertise, has been a great chance for learning.” (1st Edition)

Dr. Nicholas BarbieriMUSE - Museo delle Scienze di Trento, Italy


  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until May 31st, 2016):
  • 540
  • Regular (after May 31st, 2016):
  • 755
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches.
    (VAT included)

We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact the course coordinators).


Former participants will have a 5 % discount on the Course Fee.

Unfortunately there are no scholarships available for this course. However a 20 % discount on the Course Fee is offered for members of some organizations (Organizations with discount). If you want to apply to this discount please indicate it in the Registration form (proof will be asked later).

Spanish unemployed scientists, as well as Spanish PhD students without any grant or scholarship to develop their PhD, could benefit from a 40 % discount on the Course Fee. If you want to ask for this discount, please contact the course coordinators. That would apply for a maximum of 2 places and they will be covered by strict inscription order.

Discounts are not cumulative.


Course Schedule
Monday, November 14th and Tuesday, November 15th, 20169:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
13:30 to 15:00 Lunch.
15:00 to 19:00 Lessons.

There will be two coffee breaks each day, halfway through each lesson session.

Wednesday, November 16th and Thursday, November 17th, 20168:30 Meeting point at the UAB to take the bus to the collections.
9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
13:30 to 15:00 Lunch.
15:00 to 19:00 Lessons.

There will be two coffee breaks each day, halfway through each lesson session.

Friday, November 18th, 20169:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
13:30 to 15:00 Lunch.
15:00 to 19:00 Lessons.

There will be two coffee breaks, halfway through each lesson session.

The schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.


Transmitting Science Logo
Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) Logo


Research School in Biosystematics (ForBio) Logo
Colegio Oficial de Biólogos de Castilla y León Logo
Colegio Oficial de Biólogos de Euskadi Logo
Colexio Oficial de Biólogos de Galicia Logo
Col·legi Oficial de Biòlegs de la Comunitat Valenciana Logo
Distributed European School of Taxonomy (DEST) Logo
European Association of Vertebrate Palaeontologists (EAVP) Logo
Sociedade Brasileira de Paleontologia (SBP) Logo
Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona (nat) Logo