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OM hosts joint international conference

Otago Museum conservation manager Nyssa Mildwaters (left) and Museums Victoria natural sciences conservator Dani Measday reflect on a joint research poster. Photo: Gregor Richardson.

John Gibb, Widespread benefits expected from conference, Otago Daily Times, 28 August 2018

A big international conference that began at Otago Museum yesterday is expected to provide positive benefits for the museum, Dunedin, and New Zealand’s overall conservation efforts.

The museum, working with the University of Otago, is hosting the conference of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, which is being held in the southern hemisphere for the first time.

The event is being staged jointly with a gathering of the Taxonomic Database Working Group, the first time these two international organisations have held a joint conference.

The working group focuses on data and standards, and the society deals with looking after natural history collections.

Otago Museum director of collections, research and education Robert Morris said the conference had attracted more than 360 participants, and was “a real coup for both the museum and the city”.

The conference was adding to the international reputation of the museum, and of Dunedin as a centre of education and science excellence, and was also likely to help provide significant conservation benefits, Mr Morris said.

He hoped the conference would stimulate greater links between key organisations in New Zealand, including museums and government agencies, and that increased information sharing would ultimately benefit the country’s overall conservation efforts.

“By sharing information we hope that a more collaborative approach to managing natural history collections and disseminating information about them will improve,” he said.

This was a “necessary step” in developing data to “assess the impact of climate change, species distribution and loss and how we manage ecosystems in the future”, he said in an interview.

Among the participants were 77 from New Zealand, 45 from Australia, 146 from the United States and 17 from Germany.

A total of 15 people were coming from various Smithsonian Institutions, and more people were coming from Africa, Europe and Asia, he said.

Among conference participants are Otago Museum conservation manager Nyssa Mildwaters and Museums Victoria natural sciences conservator Dani Measday, of Melbourne, who have prepared a collaborative research poster.

The poster, which was displayed at the University of Otago’s Link complex yesterday, explores the benefits of using silicone-based solvents and emulsions for cleaning natural science specimens.

The conference is devoted to “Collections and Data in an Uncertain World”, and runs until Saturday, including several days of workshops, field trips and other activities.