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Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

2nd Edition

Care and Management of Natural History Collections

April 23rd-27th, 2018, Barcelona (Spain)

Museums and Collections

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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 (ICP)

C/ de l’Escola Industrial, 23
08201 Sabadell, Barcelona (Spain)

How to get there




40 hours on-site.

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

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, April 23rd, 2018.

  • 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.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018.

  • 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, April 25th, 2018.

Thursday, April 26th, 2018.

  • 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, April 27th, 2018.

  • 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:

“Thank you for this excellent course! Sole’s and Judith’s perfect organization left nothing to be desired. The tight, well-chosen schedule provided comprehensive insight into all relevant subjects of managing natural history collections. The instructors Greg McDonald and John E. Simmons shared their incredibly rich experience and knowledge not only in theory lectures. Looking behind the scenes of different museums, we immersed ourselves in the daily challenges of collection management. I enjoyed this intensive week of learning and exchange with nice colleagues within an open-minded atmosphere.” (1st Edition)

Astrid ScharfetterUniversity of Graz, Austria

“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

Previous editions of this course


1st Edition, November 14th-18th, 2016

Course Care and Management of Natural History Collections - 1st Edition, November 14th-18th, 2016Thirty people belonging to the following countries and institutions participated in this edition:

  • Australia: Macquarie University, Australian Museum.
  • Austria: University of Graz.
  • Germany: Georg-August-University of Goettingen.
  • Italy: Università di Torino, University of Molise.
  • The Netherlands: Naturalis Biodiversity Center.
  • Norway: Natural History Museum University of Oslo.
  • Spain: Myrmex – Serveis Tècnics a les Ciències Naturals, Institut de Biologia Evolutiva – CSIC – Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Institut Botànic de Barcelona – CSIC, Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona, Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont.
  • Turkey: Natural History Museum – Ege University.


  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until November 30th, 2017):
  • 540
  • Regular (after November 30th, 2017):
  • 675
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks, lunches and transportation to the different collections.
    (VAT included)

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


The course will take place in the city of Sabadell, Barcelona (Spain). Take a look at the venue.

You may stay in Barcelona city or Sabadell. You will find information about Hotels and Hostel in Sabadell here. It takes about 45 minutes by public transport to arrive to Sabadell from the centre of Barcelona city. The place of the course is about 15 minutes walking from the train stop.


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, April 23rd and Tuesday, April 24th, 20189:30 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, April 25th and Thursday, April 26th, 20188:30 Meeting point at the ICP 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, April 27th, 20189:30 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.


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