When someone mentions the words ‘The Natural History Museum’, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Most people know it as a world-renowned tourist attraction and a place to stick the kids during the school holidays. However, an image that often doesn’t appear in people’s memory is a centre of world leading scientific research.
Tucked safely away behind the scenes live over 70 million specimens, many of which were the first of their kind to be discovered and contain information, which is scientifically significant to their field. But what good are the specimens if they remain hidden from the eyes of the public and other researchers not working at the museum? Digitization of these collections ensures the legacy of every carefully labeled and logged specimen lives on. Not only through widening its research potential, but ensuring that the information is logged onto somewhere a little more stable than a paper label.
For this V Factor collaboration, the volunteers will spend their 10 weeks working closely with a collection compiled by naturalist Thomas Comber in an attempt to '[Make] the invisible, visible’. Carefully scanning in hundreds of pages of identification notes, locality names and information contained on the specimen slides, the images produced will be uploaded onto the internet and shared through scratchpad technology (as you are doing now!).
This invaluable work completed during the programme will make a huge difference to the access of the collections at the Natural History Museum. Not only allowing for further researchers worldwide, but also ensuring that the legacy scribbled onto any paper labels is safer, and easier to read than ever before.