NHM London aims to digitise 20 million specimens within 5 years

In a bid to push forward drastically its digitisation processes, the Natural History Museum of London launches a 1-day event entitled “Digital Horizons”.


NHM Digital Horizons – Opening the NHM’s collections
14 July 2015 at the NHM London


Collections are an amazing resource with a range of different research opportunities. Specimen data provide snapshots of the diversity and distribution of life on the planet at different times in its 400 million year history” explained the NHM’s event organisers. “Current projects range from linking phenology of butterflies and orchids to climate change through assessing crop wild relatives and their pests to quantifying the effects of temperature and vegetation on large British fossil mammals.However, we think this is the tip of the iceberg and there are many more exciting projects which could be developed. NHM Digital Horizons is an ambitious project to release the information locked in our collections and make it available. To do this our aim is to digitise over 20 million specimens in the next five years. “

To broaden the spectrum of research using their specimens, NHM London wants to accelerate the pace of its digitisation process. And to do this, they hope to benefit from sister institutions experiences: “Digitising our collections is a challenge which involves developing appropriate processes and identifying research questions. Addressing these issues presents an opportunity for collaboration in a range of areas. One major focus for the NHM Digitial Horizons is discovering the best way to digitise our collections. Each different collection presents its own challenges but also opportunities to develop innovative approaches. And our collections range from minerals, fossils, plants insects to soft-bodied invertebrates, meteorites to whales. So the opportunities for collaboration are not just about the data. How we digitise and the engineering involved is also a major topic for us.

Thus NHM London is looking for research collaborations to develop and strengthen their digital efforts. “Digital Horizons” will be an opportunity for discussions and collaborations, to discover the range of research opportunities associated with NHM London’s collections, to peak behind the scenes and discover the range of digitisation projects already undertaken. It will also be a chance to talk to the scientists undertaking the projects and discover the results so far.

Among the projects featured: iCollections – mass digitisation of UK Lepidoptera, eMesozoic – mass digitisation of fossils, Slides – a semi-automated system to digitise slides, Developing a virtual Herbarium, NHM Data Portal – accessing data and analytical tools

Key collections will also be on show.


Contact: Dr Gordon Paterson (020 7942 5678 email: g.paterson@nhm.ac.uk) or Dr Mindy Syfert (email: m.syfert@nhm.ac.uk)
Please register your interest by: 26th of June 2015

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