The Natural History Museum Annual Report 2002|03
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The collections / Opening up digital access

The collections
The collections are the basis for much advanced taxonomic work, and scientists around the world depend on them.

The Museum’s 100 curatorial staff are responsible for one of the world’s most important natural history collections, with over 70 million specimens.

The collections are the basis for much advanced taxonomic work, and scientists around the world depend on them. The completion of the Darwin Centre in 2007 will ensure their safekeeping for future generations of researchers.

Material from our collections is made widely available to exhibitions and researchers internationally. During the year, 56,523 specimens were loaned in this way. Our staff also undertake authoritative identifications and provide scientific advice to members of the public and organizations – 47,490 such requests and enquiries were dealt with in 2002/03.

We are in the early stages of an initiative to develop the standing of natural history collections. We will play a central role as the hub of a regional network of institutions across England, working collaboratively with them in key areas such as staff training, exhibition design and collections databasing.

Insect and rodent pests pose a serious threat to our collections. Following the Health and Safety Executive’s decision to prohibit use of the pesticide dichlorvos, we have developed an Integrated Pest Management policy. This is now being implemented across the entire Museum on a scale not previously attempted in a major museum, and is part of our commitment to setting world standards in collections management.

Our collections include the largest resource of natural history library materials in the world. In 2002 the Library and Information Services department was restructured under its new head, Graham Higley, and now consists of four teams – Collections Development, Data and Digital Systems, IT and Library Services.

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