At the recent joint annual meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNCH) and the Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Heritage Health Index presented data on the status and condition of U.S. natural science collections. According to the Index, "the majority of the U.S.'s 820 million zoological, botanical, geological, paleontological, and paleobotany specimens are held in 'science museums' and 'archaeological repositories or scientific research collections,' which include government agencies or universities that would not be classified as museums. Science museums include natural history museums, science technology museums, planetariums, and the non-living collections at nature centers, arboretums, botanical gardens, aquariums, and zoos." In the report, the Index addresses varying issues related to collections management including the percentage of institutions with written, long-range plans for collection care (science museums over 40% and archaeological repositories over 60%), staffing demographics (institutions are often staffed in large part by volunteers), and the percentage of collections available through a catalog.
To read more about the Heritage Health Index, please visit www.heritagepreservation.org/HHI/index.html.
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