Museum collections tale tales
Just like a snapshot, a collection gives you a glimpse of a particular time in history. You can learn about the collectors and the museum staff, their scientific ideas, their passions, their political moods. Understanding the past helps us to grasp the present state of science and even to peek into the future. It is all about the stories behind collections: the people, the society, the economy, the political prestige, that made museums what they are today.
I have the privilege of being one of the curators at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden. The museum was founded in 1820 as the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie and it is now known as Naturalis. Its collections are old, very old. Some specimens can be traced back to the 16th century. It is also constantly growing. There is a lot to discover about its history and very little published about it. I look at the collection both as a biologist and as a historian of science, discovering every day new anecdotes and details worth sharing. In this blog, you will find some of these discoveries, pieces of interesting history, anecdotes, and slices of my own research. I am also very interested in your own stories.
Museum Chronicles is a blog for curators and for historians of science. The balance between curating scientific collections and preserving their history is a very delicate one. A collaboration between curators and historians is, I firmly believe, the most fruitful way to keep this balance. You are most welcome to comment on my musings, start discussions and share your experience.
Dr. Eulàlia Gassó Miracle, Curator at Naturalis Biodiversity Center / Researcher History of Natural History.