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Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

1st Edition

Fluid Preservation

November 12th-16th, 2018, Barcelona (Spain)

Museums and Collections

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Fluid PreservationCourse overview

In this course, conservator Simon Moore, assisted by John E. Simmons, will present a series of lectures, discussions, and supervised hands-on laboratory activities on the evaluation, conservation, and preservation of fluid-preserved specimens. Topics to be covered include the history of fluid preservation, histology and morphology of fluid preserved specimens, and techniques including narcotization, fixation and re-fixation, transfer between preservatives, fluid preservative options, identification of historic sealants, specimen repair, and how to work with historic and modern fluid preserved specimens. Participants will learn to cut, grind, and drill filler holes in glass; rehydrate desiccated specimens and remove air bubbles from them; mount specimens on glass backing plates; seal containers, cope with fungal and bacterial outbreaks, and work with transparencies. During the course, participants will become acquainted with the evaluation of a range of preservative fluids for zoological and botanical specimens, including preservation of colour in specimens.


Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP)

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

How to get there


November 12th-16th, 2018




30 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 20 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

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


Simon Moore instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Simon Moore
Natural Sciences and Cutlery Historian
United Kingdom

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 12th, 2018. Introduction: Including local logistics, fire-exits, risks, allergies, house H&S rules, self introductions.

  • Morning:
    • Overview of course technology and histological effects of fluid preservation.
    • Questions and discussion about the importance of fluid collections, fixation versus pseudo-fixation, fixation versus preservation.
    • Glass cutting, grinding, drilling: necessary for making lids and backing plates.
    • Rehydration of dried-out specimens started.
    • Relevance of injecting fresh material with fixative.
  • Afternoon:
    • Preparation of jars (checking, grinding out blemishes – lab).
    • Dehydration/ Hydration ladders start (lab).
    • Thread mounting of specimens (lab).
    • Celloidin mounting of snails to specimens and labels (lab).
    • Check rehydrating specimens and fix + inject if they are ready (lab).

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018. Narcotisation, historical sealants, pelagic (jellyfish) mounts, botanical preservatives.

  • Morning:
    • Check of previous day’s work, analyse and correct problems. Move specimens in ladders (lab).
    • Changing fluids in sealed jars (lab).
    • How to deal with air bubbles, especially those trapped inside rehydrated specimens using a small portable vacuum pump (lab).
    • Making glass needles and their use in specimen repair (lab).
    • Celloidin repair of specimens in IMS (lab).
    • Releasing vacuum in Visijars.
    • Thread mounting of specimens (continuation) including jellyfish on acetate discs (lab).
  • Afternoon:
    • Move specimens in ladders (lab).
    • Compounding of sealant/s (gelatine, Acrifix, bitumen).
    • Unsealing jars containing specimens requiring treatment (lab).
    • Other types of sealant including historical sealants.
    • Sealing of jars that are ready (lab).

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018. Preservatives, lipids, copper wire staining.

  • Morning:
    • Checking of previous day’s seals (lab).
    • Assessing problems: evaporation and dilution.
    • Dealing with lipids and other contaminants including fungal growth.
    • Copper salts staining specimens, from being mounted on copper wire.
    • Detecting preserving fluids and auto-dilution problems: use of map pins and Dries van Dam’s ‘pills’.
    • Making your own specific gravity detector (lab).
    • Which preservatives should you use?
    • Problems of mixing fluids (exothermic due to binary azeotropy and leading to air bubble formation).
    • Buffering and pH levels (lab).
  • Afternoon:
    • Stretching polypropylene rod (lab).
    • Topping up sealed jars, ‘corking’ and sealing. Checking for problems and why they may have occurred.

Thursday, November 15th, 2018. Transparencies, labels and label inks, tubes in jars (invert or not?) Jar types and problems, storage areas, plastination – ethics.

  • Morning:
    • Check of nearly-finished jars, are they leaking? If so, why, what has caused this – understanding how and why problems can occur and why deadlines can be difficult to meet! (lab).
    • Dealing with transparencies – clearing fluids including glycerol, propylene glycol, methyl benzoate and turpentine and problems associated with these.
    • Sending fluid-preserved specimens by post or courier, worldwide policies changing year to year. Links to answers nh-coll website: http://mailman.yale.edu/mailman/listinfo/nhcoll-l.
    • How to store such collections so that they need minimum monitoring and maintenance.
    • Labels and their problems, which paper/s to use. Internal or external labels?
  • Afternoon:
    • Finishing of practical work and projects.

Friday, November 16th, 2018.


  • Course Fee
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  • Early bird (until March 31st, 2018):
  • 630
  • Regular (after March 31st, 2018):
  • 790
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches (VAT included).

20 % discount will be applied to your fee If you belong to any of the Institutions listed HERE. Discounts (see Funding below) are not cumulative and apply only on the fee.

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


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.


Course Schedule
  • Monday to Thursday:
    • 9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
    • 13:30 to 15:00 Lunch (included).
    • 15:00 to 17:30 Lessons.
  • Friday:
    • 9:30 to 13:30 Visit to collections.



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

Furthermore, 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).

Unemployed scientists living in Spain, as well as PhD students based in Spain 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 coordinator. That would apply for a maximum of 2 places and they will be covered by strict inscription order.

Discounts are not cumulative and apply only on the fee, not to Accommodation Package or other options.


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