Collection Management and Conservation Research Centre
The work of the Collection Management and Conservation Research Centre investigates and establishes best practices in collection management and the conservation of natural history collections. The Centre promotes these practices through publications, training and consulting services.
Collections of natural science specimens are the foundation for our scientific understanding of the natural world. Among other purposes, we use collections for identifying species, teaching, maintaining verifiable records of changes in our environment, prospecting for new medicines and determining the paths of infectious diseases.
Natural history collections are increasingly important, but funding for them is falling. Recent reviews of the status of biodiversity, systematics and collection care have all recognized this challenge. The relative lack of a coherent and comprehensive body of knowledge on collection management makes our efforts at the Centre more urgent.
Framework development: prioritizing and allocating
Current activities of the Centre focus on:
- creating a system to evaluate risks to collections;
- developing a method to set priorities to optimize investments in collection care;
- evaluating parameters to assess the state of fluid-preserved collections.
Research: collection management and conservation techniques
Topics of recent research papers include:
- gaseous pollutant concentration distribution in mineral collections;
- a retrospective risk assessment of the Tradescant collection;
- the storage of herbarium specimens;
- the effect of freezing on primula specimens.
Other projects include:
- light-induced deterioration;
- parameters for assessing the state of fluid-preserved collections.
Outreach activities: sharing new knowledge
While we apply what we learn to the natural history collections of the Canadian Museum of Nature, this knowledge can benefit all collections. Recent outreach activities include workshops and, as well as the design of archival quality storage containers (acid-free polyET), which are now available for sale.
Sharing the benefits
Beneficiaries of the Centre's activities include:
- the Canadian Museum of Nature, through the benefits of cost-reduction and improvement of the management and preservation of the collections;
- other collection-based research organizations;
- users of natural science collections (including industry, educators, students and artists);
- all people through the benefits that accrue to them via collection-based research.
Hygrothermographs placed inside and outside of a collection cabinet for one month indicate how effectively well-sealed metal cabinets reduce variations in relative humidity levels.
The data produced by the hygrothermograph placed inside the cabinet, indicates that a stable, gradually drifting, relative humidity level was maintained behind the sealed door. The data of the top line shows the widely fluctuating levels of relative humidity measured at the same time, by the machine on top of the cabinet.