Understanding and sharing the collection

The Museum's collection of over 80 million objects is an important scientific resource both for understanding the natural world and for engaging audiences.

The collection has been assembled over the past 300 years and thinking about the historical context of the collections is not new for the Museum.

We work to three principles to help us understand and share the Museum's collection. The principles help inform:

  • research on the history of our institution and collections 
  • content and narratives explored in our public engagement
  • collaboration projects based on the collections. 

The principles are:

Acknowledging history 

  • We will acknowledge that the history of collections, museums and science has been shaped by the views and culture of those involved. 
  • We will acknowledge the wide range of people and cultures involved in developing the collections, museums and science - both in the past and present.
  • We will acknowledge that there are stories we do not know and that there are people who have been excluded and impacted. 

Broadening perspectives

  • We will invest ongoing time and effort to build trust and meaningful relationships to broaden our understanding of the collections. 
  • We will listen, learn and be open to challenging dialogues and collaborations in order to understand the meaning of collections, museums and science for peoples, places and environments.  
  • We will be open minded and question existing narratives about the history of the collection, the museum, and science through research and other avenues, involving those from a wide range of perspectives and disciplines. 

Communicating and sharing 

  • We will add understanding and broaden existing narratives to provide fuller stories on the cultural and wider context of the collections, museum and science, and the people and places involved. 
  • We will learn and adapt our practice along the way, accepting that we will not always get it right, to ensure that our content and narratives better connect to audiences of today and tomorrow.

Last updated

This page was last updated in February 2021.

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