SwissCollNet is committed to improving the accessibility of natural history collections. A common vision and long-term strategy will promote the use of natural history collections for research, education and society.

Image: OscarLoRo,

Zoology - Vertebrates

Vertebrate collection: about preventive conservation and bringing the inventory to the next level
Louise Robert (Natural History Museum Neuchâtel)

The origin of the vertebrate collections at the Museum of Natural History of Neuchâtel (MHNN) dates back over 200 years. Since then, the collection has continued to grow and now includes over 21,600 specimens, many of which are of high scientific and historical value.

The specimens have deteriorated with time, namely due to climatic variation, attacks by insect pests and the accumulation of dust. Specimens will be dusted, disinfested, restored and reconditioned. The collections preserved in alcohol will also be reconditioned, according to the best practices in the field.

Each specimen in the collection will be mapped in order to verify its presence and location in the collection. At the same time, specimens will undergo a taxonomic revision and their IUCN conservation status will be noted.

High resolution photographs will be taken of all specimens and integrated into the MHNN database. This will improve the visibility of the collection for the scientific community.

21st century curation - best practices for expansion and providing accessibility of vertebrate collections
Stefan T. Hertwig (Natural History Museum Bern), Lukas Rüber (Natural History Museum Bern), Manuel Schweizer (Natural History Museum Bern)

Natural history collections and databases document the diversity of life on Earth and serve as an important basis for our understanding of evolution. Correctly dated and preserved museum specimens are therefore indispensable sources of data for biological and applied research. Consequently, natural history museums must constantly expand their collections in a targeted manner based on scientific standards. In this context, the conservation of objects is a time-consuming and cost-intensive process, which is, however, a prerequisite for any subsequent scientific use of natural history collections. The project at the Museum of Natural History Bern, funded by SwissCollNet, will lead to a significant expansion and better cataloguing of the vertebrate collection. A total of 3000 newly collected specimens as well as 350 historical skeletons in poor condition will be prepared, sampled and digitally recorded for the collection. The newly collected data will be made available to superordinate databases and thus made accessible to researchers all over the world. In this model project, standards for the processing of newly collected material but also for the preservation of historical objects in vertebrate collections in general will be further developed. In the context of a workshop, best practices in extension and curation of vertebrate collections will be shared with other institutions as a contribution to maintaining high standards in Switzerland's natural history collections.

Inventory/Digitization of exotic vertebrates in the collection of the Natural History Museum of Solothurn
Andreas Schäfer (Natural History Museum Solothurn)

The main objective of this project is the re-determination, the re-labelling and the digitization of all exotic animals in our vertebrate collection. As a small museum we need some help by specialists (coming from other institutions) for the re-determination of the exotic animals. All other parts of the project we can do ourselves.

The project is important because it makes an essential part of our collection accessible to researchers and scientists. A digitization/inventory also is important for long term preservation. Only if we can guarantee a link between object and data we can conserve its scientific value. By rising the collection standard, the collection becomes important for national and international databases.