Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada

Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada

April 12, 2011 16:00 ET

Canadian Natural History Curators Work to Preserve Canada's Natural History Records

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 12, 2011) - Canada's national network of natural history museums has produced a National Collections Development Strategy that will guide sustainable management practices, help safeguard the integrity of Canada's natural history collections, and encourage collaboration in documenting the country's biodiversity.

The strategy is based on consultations with and discussions among the 12 founding members of the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada (ANHMC), which was incorporated in 2003. An exhaustive survey identified 510 individual collections, encompassing 19.7 million specimens that represent zoological, botanical, geological and palaeontological records of Canada's biodiversity. In total, this number accounts for about one-third (31.6%) of all the estimated natural history records in Canada. The remainder are in collections maintained by universities, government departments and private institutions.

The premise of the report is that natural history collections provide authoritative documentation, such as where and when a species has been found, identified, or even discovered for the first time. These specimens function as data that help in understanding biological, cultural, and environmental trends. They also provide the evidence to reinforce concerns or note improvements in the state of biodiversity. By collaborating with outside organizations, saving orphaned collections, and coordinating research, the ANHMC strategy will ensure that fundamental information about species biodiversity is fully documented, preserved and shared.

"We know that Canadians are increasingly aware that they are dependent on healthy, biologically diverse environments for clean air, clean water and fertile soil. This Alliance strategy provides a roadmap that will ensure natural history collections are preserved and documented for the future and can be fully used in support of all Canadians to best understand our biodiversity," said Anne Chafe, President of the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada. "Each member of the network develops their collections in accordance with their respective mandates, but as a group we are effective and efficient in developing and maintaining this vital and comprehensive permanent record."

The report also recommends steps to address issues critical to the future of Canadian natural history collections, some of which were identified in a 2010 report by the Council of Canadian Academies. Among these issues is the need to expand training and expertise, as well as to enhance the capacity to manage collections and to share online data that provide information on environmental issues such as invasive and endangered species or climate change.

Copies of the ANHMC National Collections Development Strategy are available at or by contacting Louise Winter at 613-566-4740 or

The ANHMC's 16 members from west to north to east are: the Royal British Columbia Museum, Vancouver Aquarium, Royal Alberta Museum, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Manitoba Museum, Royal Ontario Museum, Canadian Museum of Nature, Toronto Zoo, Montreal's Nature Museums (Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Gardens and Planetarium), Redpath Museum (Montreal), New Brunswick Museum, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, and The Rooms Provincial Museum, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Created in 2003, the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada now has 16 members from coast to coast. Its goal is to increase visibility of Canada's natural history institutions, which are responsible for preserving precious collections of millions of specimens that are the record of our natural heritage. The network strives to build capacity in the areas of scientific research, collections development and education about the natural environment, for the greater benefit of all Canadians.

Contact Information

  • Canadian Museum of Nature
    Elizabeth McCrea
    Director, Marketing and Communications
    613-868-8277 (cell)

    Canadian Museum of Nature
    Dan Smythe
    Senior Media Relations Officer