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The extinct Dodo comes to Cardiff

The extinct Dodo pops up at international conference

Prestigious natural history conference comes to Wales for the first time

The Oxford Dodo is the best-preserved specimen of this iconic bird left on Earth and is just one of the irreplaceable natural treasures that will be on display as part of a “pop up museum” at the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) conference in Cardiff next week.

Coming to Wales for the first time, the international SPNHC Conference will be hosted by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in partnership with the Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA) and the Geological Curators’ Group (GCG) held at the Wales Millennium Centre and National Museum Cardiff from Monday, 23 June – Friday, 27 June 2014.

The unique conference marks the world’s largest gathering of natural history curators with over 250 geologists, zoologists and botanists from over 90 museums and universities from across the world.

The theme of SPNHC 2014 is Historic Collections: A Resource for the Future. There will be a host of activities and events organised as part of the week-long conference including fieldtrips, workshops, and talks by BBC TV’s Professor Alice Roberts, Dr Rhys Jones and Ben Garrod as well as tours of museum collections.

The specimens have been brought together by their keepers, staff from Amgueddfa Cymru and Oxford University Museum of Natural History. They form a pop up museum display which can be seen at the Wales Millennium Centre throughout the week. The objects, which include the world’s best-preserved remains of the Dodo, the jaw of the first dinosaur ever to be named and incredible specimens from the voyages of Captain Cook, Charles Darwin, and others, were chosen to highlight the continuing relevance of collections to science and society.

Every object on show tells a story. The King Penguin was donated to Amgueddfa Cymru by Ernest Shackleton in 1910 after his pioneering Antarctic expedition. Alfred Russel Wallace’s favourite birdwing butterflies signify how his insights into species and biogeography, based on his collections, led the former surveyor from Usk to co-discover natural selection with Darwin. Fragments of meteorite, from the famous 2013 fireball in Chelyabinsk, Russia, show how history is always being made, and that today’s contemporary collections are the historic collections of the future.”

The display, entitled “Natural Treasures”, was conceived by Newport-born Julian Carter, a collections conservator from Amgueddfa Cymru, who explained:

“As natural history curators and conservators, we have the opportunity to pickle sharks, clean dinosaur skeletons, X-ray rocks, or discover new beetle species for a living. Despite being a specialist field, the results can be wildly popular as well as scientifically valuable. It’s all about collections telling stories, and leading to new discoveries.

“One of the main reasons we’re all getting together at the conference is to discuss how we ensure natural history collections remain available to the people of today and the future, and this exhibit celebrates that.”

John Griffiths, Minister for Culture and Sport, said, “We are delighted that the conference is in Cardiff and Wales for the first time. This cements the reputation of National Museum Cardiff as one of the UK’s leading Natural History museums and puts Wales on the world map in terms of showing the rich collection of natural history exhibits.”

Admission to National Museum Cardiff is free thanks to the support of the Welsh Government.