Museum Director Dr Doug Gurr shakes hands with Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, speaker of parliament for Singapore, as they exchange a memorandum of understanding at this morning’s launch event CREDIT Trustees of the Natural History Museum, 2022

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Natural History Museum celebrates pioneering digital and scientific collaboration with the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum of the National University of Singapore

Project SIGNIFY will see some of Singapore’s earliest historical biodiversity data made freely accessible to the world

·       Facilitated by the Museum, this project will onset Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum’s digital collection and set a precedent for future likeminded collaborations

·       An event held at the Museum on Wednesday 10 August attended by Museum Director Dr Doug Gurr and Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore and Chairman of Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum’s Advisory Committee, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, marked the start of this project

The Natural History Museum today celebrated its partnership with the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) of the National University of Singapore. Representatives from both parties met in the Museum’s world-renowned galleries to launch an international digitisation collaboration which will mobilise a wealth of data on the scientific, geological and environmental history of Singapore.

Fossils and artefacts collected from early voyages from Britain to Singapore, including the first Singaporean primate, bird and insect to be collected and catalogued for scientific purposes, will be included in this five-year digitisation project which hopes to inspire similar collaborations across the globe.

Other star specimens include field notes and fossils collected by Singapore’s first female geologist, Frances Elizabeth Somerville Alexander (1908-1958), whose war-time work was significant to the development of radar and radio waves in scientific applications, and an Ichthyophis specimen, believed to be among the rarest amphibians of Singapore, currently only known with certainty from the Museum’s specimen.

Museum Director, Dr Doug Gurr, says ‘This partnership is a natural fit for our respective institutions which act as custodians of the natural world. The benefits of a collaborative digitisation and science project of this scale are immense and transcend into the realms of culture, education, public outreach and heritage. By sharing the wonder of the Collection, together we can inspire the next generation of advocates for the planet. The Museum is delighted to be working with its Singaporean partner on this pioneering project.’

Colleagues from LKCNHM will continue to visit the Museum at South Kensington to work alongside our scientists and curators to investigate a vast array of Singaporean artefacts. Not only will the team be gathering high-res images and scientific data with access to a variety of analytical techniques such as CT scanning and X-rays, but they will also research past documentation that can help contextualise natural history material on topics such as biodiversity, conservation, ecology, population genetics and the deep past. 

Associate Professor Darren Yeo, Head of LKCNHM, says “This occasion is significant as we are embarking on something never before done at an international level - a donor-funded effort that aims to deepen our research ties by making Singapore’s historical biodiversity data freely available to the world, and at the same time mobilising this data for bilateral research between our museums.”

Data gathered from project SIGNIFY will then be available via online portals including the Museum’s data portal, and the project website,

SIGNIFY is the Singapore in Global Natural History Museums Information Facility. 


Notes to editors

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The Natural History Museum is both a world-leading science research centre and the most-visited indoor attraction in the UK last year. With a vision of a future in which both people and the planet thrive, it is uniquely positioned to be a powerful champion for balancing humanity’s needs with those of the natural world. 

It is custodian of one of the world’s most important scientific collections comprising over 80 million specimens accessed by researchers from all over the world both in person and via over 30 billion digital data downloads to date. The Museum’s 350 scientists are finding solutions to the planetary emergency from biodiversity loss through to the sustainable extraction of natural resources. 

The Museum uses its global reach and influence to meet its mission to create advocates for the planet - to inform, inspire and empower everyone to make a difference for nature. We welcome millions of visitors through our doors each year, our website has had 17 million visits in the last year and our touring exhibitions have been seen by around 20 million people in the last 10 years.