Type material in UK museums

Just announced: a new website which gives access to information (and images) of molluscan type material in the United Kingdom.

The announcement read: “The Mollusca staff of the Natural History Museum, London and the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff have been working to digitally unite the type specimens found in Mollusca collections across Great Britain into one comprehensive database.

Thanks to the John Ellerman Foundation’s Regional Museums and Galleries Fund the first phase of our project has now been released, bringing together the type collections of seven partner Museums (Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow Hunterian, Glasgow Kelvingrove, Exeter and Newcastle).

The curatorial staff from the leading institutions have been able to help research, catalogue and photograph c. 600 primary types to unite them as never before. Our online database also gives examples of handwriting to help identify type material as well as information and resources to assist in tracing historical mollusc collections including an updated Appendix IV from S.P. Dance’s ‘A History of Shell Collecting’ (1986) reproduced with kind permission of the author.

In the near future we will be adding further secondary type specimens from our phase 1 project partners as well as primary type material from the National Museum of Wales. In the longer term we will be adding more UK based type collections as further funding becomes available.”

The database presents excellent photographs and various ways to search for specimens. It is an important source for anyone looking for type material from historical collections, especially if the collector resided in the UK or the collection is known to be in museums there. However, as the illustration above shows, also unexpected finds are possible.


2 thoughts on “Type material in UK museums

  1. Michal Maňas

    Nice website. It is a pity, that images of types are licensed as “NonCommercial”. It is not possible to use them in citizen science projects such as Wikipedia. How else to spread knowledge about malacology for general public?

  2. bramb Post author

    The choice of the type of license is of course entirely depending on the owners; in the case of museums I am personally not surprised about the choice for this type. Why would they permit others to earn money with pictures taken by their professional staff? Are citizen science projects always commercial activities?? Think about a non-commercial way to do them.
    Spreading knowledge about malacology can also be obtained by various other ways. Blogs may help, but various malacological or natural history societies may also organise outreach activities. For me it remains questionable if you always need images of type material to communicate to a general public…


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