By Henry McGhie, Head of Collections and Curator of Zoology, Manchester Museum: firstname.lastname@example.org
Responses are sought to explore museum workers’ individual perceptions of the ways museums, and their museums in particular, connect with a nature conservation mission.
Miller et al. (2003) suggested that ‘collections-based institutions’, including museums, ‘exhibit wildlife and thus have a special connection with nature. Many of these institutions emphasize a mission of conservation and, undeniably, they do contribute directly to conservation education and conservation science. They present an exceptional opportunity for many urban residents to see the wonders of life, and they can contribute to education and habitat preservation.’ As many collections-based institutions held a stated mission museums of nature conservation, they proposed eight questions to evaluate actions to support that mission.
This study is intended to evaluate the nature conservation mission and actions of UK museums and galleries, through the perceptions of those who work in them. It is not restricted to museums whose collections solely or largely consist of preserved natural heritage (natural history/natural science), and responses are sought from a wide range of museums, recognising that museums may be part of a broader service, and that museums, galleries and similar institutions have great potential to connect with a nature conservation mission.
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Nature conservation not object conservation
For the purposes of this study, ‘conservation’ does not mean the care or preparation of objects, but care, management, preservation, research and education/engagement relating to natural heritage (living, environmental and geological) beyond the museum. Nature conservation is ‘a value-driven discipline based on the premise that the preservation of species diversity, ecological systems, and evolutionary processes in nature is important to the maintenance of life on our planet. Conservationists seek ways to protect natural systems and heal the wounds of degraded systems. Conservation actions are ultimately unsuccessful if the amount of wild lands and wildlife continues to decline’ (see Miller et al. for references).
Data use and protection
Where relevant, responses should relate to an overall museum, not a single department, and it is perfectly fine for more than one person per museum/gallery to answer, as this is about exploring individual perceptions. There are no right or wrong answers in this study. Data will be grouped for analysis. Responses will be non-attributable to individuals in the final write-up. Museums will be grouped by museum type, with groupings determined by response rates, geography and governance type (e.g. national, regional, university, local authority). Analyses will also be based on differences in role type. By responding, participants agree that their answers can be included in analysis. Data will be kept for the purpose of this and similar projects only, and will not be shared with a third party.