Museums are essential for sustaining the world’s biological and cultural diversity. Yet they can do more without undermining their commitment to thorough and rigorous science. For example, they can increase the accessibility of their collections. The advent of new information technologies allows natural history museums to digitize collections and to make associated scientific data accessible to wide audiences. These technologies enable the sharing of data with countries that have provided collection material, thereby closing the digital divide. Database and imaging technologies can also transform enormous collections into innovative tools for identification in the field.
Long viewed as repositories for preserved endemic, endangered, and stuffed species in the Philippines, The Museum of Natural History do far more than generate awareness and engage the public through exhibits. As dynamic research institutions with a global presence, museums, along with zoos and botanic gardens, interpret and conserve Philippine’s biological and cultural riches. The manner in which natural history museums pursue conservation—conducting biological inventories, undertaking research on which long-term strategies depend, and building scientific and technical capacity in local communities—means that such contributions often go unheralded or even unnoticed. The challenge of articulating the importance of museums to conservation extends beyond a problem of awareness. The Museum of Natural History themselves has long debated whether they should assume an advocacy role while maintaining scientific objectivity. However, through careful science-based advocacy and partnerships, The Museum of Natural History can and should directly advance conservation goals. Such action ensures that the full power of museum collections, scientific research, and public outreach programs is harnessed to conserve the world’s living heritage.
The Museum of Natural History