Mr Chris Collins

picture of chris collins gluing cellite panel onto back of plesiosaur
  • Head Of Conservation
  • Science Facilities department
  • Conservation Centre
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road

Professional Roles

Managing the Conservation Centre

My main role is to manage the Conservation Centre. This includes:

  • managing and implementing the Museum's conservation strategy
  • managing budget for conservation of collections and the Conservation Centre
  • supervising an integrated and prioritised conservation work program
  • implementation of condition surveys and risk methodologies to manage the prioritised conservation work program
  • conservation work on the museums collections.

Other roles

  • Co-leader of a cross-Museum disaster planning project
  • Co-leader of a cross-Museum collection standards project
  • Chair of the Museum Conservation Group. This role involves the development and implementation of a cross-Museum conservation and conservation management strategy. It includes the overall management and implementation of:
    • centralised cross-Museum environmental monitoring
    • cross-Museum conservation and interventive processes strategy
    • process strategy and procurement strategy documentation
    • staff training policy (including its development)
    • advice and support on issues relating to conservation of collections Museum-wide
    • Oversee data standards in the MOA modules relating to conservation.


External consultancy  projects

  • Advisory work for art galleries in New York on the conservation and preservation of Francis Bacon paintings (2002)
  • Advisory work for the Rwandan Government and Aegis Trust on the preservation and display of the remains of genocide victims (2004-5)
  • Digitisation of 10th century Iliad, Marciana Library, Venice (2007) with Centre for Hellenic Studies (Washington)
  • Development of a benchmarking document for European natural history institutions as part of Synthesys Activity C (2004-present)
  • Delivery of lecture series on conservation of natural history materials in Australia and New Zealand (2006)

SYNTHESYS Network Activity C (2004-2009)

As a participant of the benchmarking and standards project, I:

  • produced benchmarking document and methdology
  • ran training sessions on collections care as part of SYNTHESYS training courses
  • surveyed identified collections (NMNH, Paris, Berlin, Firenze, Prague, Budapest, Copenhagen)
  • managed a SYNTHESYS disaster planning project
  • identified standards for collection management and conservation

Major conferences organised

2008             IIC Biennial Congress 2008 (Chair of Congress Organising Committee)

2006             Conservation of Human Remains workshop (NHM - Allington, Comerford and
                      Collins, 2007)

2005             SPNHC 2005 (Co-chair of Congress Organsing Committee)

2004             NOOX II and III (at British LIbrary and Natural History Museum)

Conservation work at the NHM

Conservation work at the NHM

I work and advise on a wide range of materials: from paleontological and anthropological materials, to paper, 2D and 3D works of art, herbarium, zoological, archaeological and mineralogical specimens. I specialise in preventive conservation and passive environmental management in particular on modern organic materials.

I currently work on the conservation and preservation of recent human remains, prevention of deterioration using passive management techniques, and the digitisation of collections as part of the conservation process.

Current Museum projects

  • Environmental Standards for Natural History Collections
  • Risk and condition survey of departmental collections
  • Standardising survey methodologies for collections, including a triage and assessment strategy
  • Conservation and restoration of large vertebrate specimens for research and display
  • Application of CT scanning to the assessment of specimen deterioration (ESPRC/AHRC and NSF EDUCE project)
  • Passive preservation techniques for the preservation of sensitive museum specimens (anoxic environments and micro-environments)
  • Development and implementation of a telemetric environmental monitoring system
  • Disaster Planning - Co-chair of Disaster Planning Group

My role is also to;

  • Implement and report on the collection condition and environmental standards
  • lead the conservation strategy for Museum collections 
  • review and publish on environmental standards for collections in research and display
  • lead development of a cross-Museum conservation strategy and policies.


Selected references

  • Collins, C., Allington-Jones, L., Sabin, R., Lowe, M., Gregson, J., Papworth, V. and Goodger, D. ( 2008 ) Environmental standard for natural history collections - a review and recommendations. Internal NHM publication, 62p .
  • Collins, C. et al. ( 2006 ) SYNTHESYS Network Activity C-Assessing standards in European Museums. In Miller, C. G. (Ed.) Realising Standards 2005. Collection Forum, 21, Allen Press and Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, 231pp .
  • Collins, C.J., Cornish, L., Huxley, R. and Owen S. ( 2006 ) In Miller, C. G. (Eds.) Realising Standards 2005. Collection Forum, 21, Allen Press and Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, 231pp .
  • Collins, C. ( 2005 ) An ethical review of the display of human remains in Rwanda. Internal confidential discussion document. NHM Internal Report .
  • Collins. C.J. ( 1998 ) Training for natural science conservators: A review of a 5 week course for natural science conservators. Aims and future developments. NSCG. Newsletter. (9): 6-10 .
  • Elder, A., Madsen, S., Brown, G. Herbel, C., Collins, C., Whelan, S. Wenz, C, Alderson, S. And Kronthal, L. ( 1998 ) Adhesives and Consolidants in geological and palaeontological conservation: A wall chart. SPNHC Technical Leaflets. 1(2) .
  • Collins, C. (Ed.) ( 1995 ) Care and Conservation of Palaeontological Materials . Butterworth Heinemann : Oxford , 131 .
  • Collins, C. ( 1988 ) The environment and geological collections. Bulletin, Scottish Society for Conservation and Restoration 10 : 2-7 .
  • Crowther, P.R. and Collins, C.J. (Eds.) ( 1987 ) The Conservation of Geological Materials. Geological Curator 4(7) : 375-474 . Geological Curator