SPNHC/NatSCA/GCG in Cardiff

Sunday, June 22, 2014 - 09:00 to Saturday, June 28, 2014 - 14:00
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Millennium Centre Cardiff Bay

Registration has now closed for the 29th NatSCA/SPNHC Annual General Meeting, hosted by the Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales and partners. The dates will be for the week of June 22nd to June 28th, 2014, with the NatSCA sessions taking place on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th and the NatSCA AGM on the Thursday.

The meeting will be the usual busy mix of field-trips, technical sessions, workshops and social events run over the course of the week. At its heart will be the two days of talks, trade-show and demonstrations which will be held at the iconic Wales Millennium Centre in the historic Cardiff Bay area of the city.

For more info, see below and visit the conference website.

Conference Themes

The overall theme of the 2014 conference will be ‘Historic Collections: Future Resource’ which will be an opportunity to link the collections at the heart of Natural History Institutions to the demands and uses these collections are meeting in the modern world. A number of themed sessions have started to be developed:

  • Advocacy and Natural History Collections: This will be a special joint session with NatSCA exploring how to effectively promote the value of our natural science collections and associated expertise to policy makers and society alike.
  • University Museum Challenges: A session to explore the wealth of collections that are part of our universities and the challenges they face.
  • Historical Insect Collections: This session will be an opportunity to indulge in things entomological!
  • Managing Cultural Heritage in the 21st Century: Managing the physical and digital resources of our natural history heritage is a daunting task. This session will explore the issues and how it can be tackled.
  • Access and Outreach: A session dedicated to exploring the use and value of natural history collections in learning and outreach.
  • Historical Special Collections: An opportunity to focus on topics around the conservation and management of the historical or artistic collections found in our institutions that offer connections across many sectors of society.
  • In addition there will be range of other themed and open sessions developed around the presentations submitted, along with live demonstrations of software, technology and equipment in the ‘Democamp’.

Preliminary Programme

For the latest programme details please visit http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/spnhc2014/programme/

Sunday, June 22nd - Workshops

  • Workshop 1: Legal aspects of shipping preserved animals and tissues – this will be a very full day’s workshop covering issues such as the current legal framework around shipping specimens, the introduction of the Access Benefit Sharing (ABS) / Nagoya Protocol and the IATA regulations. A beer in a local pub will follow!
  • Workshop 2: Museum mount making. This will be a practical day’s workshop exploring mount making for natural history specimens including using acrylic, mat board and brass mounts.

Monday, June 23rd - Fieldtrips

  • Glamorgan Heritage Coast
    • Explore the geology and natural history of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast with the Geology Curators Group. This superb coastline extends from the Cardiff Bay area westwards.
  • The Cwm Gwrelych Geotrail and the Ffos Y Fran opencast site, with a visit to the Penderyn Whiskey Distillery
    • Diamonds, Diggers and Distilleries - An innovative/contemporary geological conservation initiative in the South Wales Coalfield
  • National Botanic Gardens
    • A visit to the Gardens and to look at their work on Grassland Conservation and DNA bar-coding, followed by a tour of the Waun las National Nature Reserve.
  • Llandovery fossil foray
    • Caught between a Celtic tribe and a hard place - Ordovician and Silurian rocks and fossils of Wales.
  • Parc Slip Nature Reserve
    • Orchids, adders, and crested newts - exploring the natural history of this former open cast site.
  • Big Pit
    • A tourist visit to the museums very own coal mine and associated nature trail around the former industrial tips.

Tuesday, June 24th

Registration from 8am
Inaugural session from 10-12
Committee meetings from 13:30 - 16:30

Talks will be held at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. The inaugural session will be held in Reardon Smith lecture theatre.

The afternoon will include open committee meetings an opportunities to explore the museum followed by an evening icebreaker event in the main hall of the museum.

Wednesday, June 24th and Thursday, June 25th

Registration from 8am
Talks from 9:00-18:00 Weds, 9:00 - 15:30 Thurs
NatSCA AGM at 12:30 on Thurs

Talks, democamp, posters and trade show to be held at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, with sessions including:

  • A special ‘mini symposia’ from iDigBio and the Small Collections Network (SCNet) ‘Recruiting, Retaining, and Supporting Small Collections in Biodiversity Digitization Initiatives’. See more info here
  • A further ‘mini symposia’ entitled ‘Update on Initiatives and Progress in Digitisation of Natural History Collections’. For further information on the theme and on contributing to this session please see here.
  • Access and outreach to Natural History Collections – The museum world is changing. Just in the last 30 years, the museum community has seen a shift in their public audience base from passive observers to active participants. How can/do we respond to these challenges?
  • Historical special collections including historical insect collections – collections are at the heart of what we do. This session will be a celebration of our historic collections, and the role they continue to play in a modern world.
  • Managing Archives & Special Collections in Natural History Museums.
  • University Museums dedicated session – such museums have long played an important role in the development of natural history collections.
  • Conservation – museum conservation in the natural sciences has come a long way in the last 25 years.
  • Advocacy special session – we are in challenging times financially and politically. So how do we make our relevance to society clear to our funding bodies?
  • Special session of the Emerging Professionals Group – an opportunity for established professionals to get together with emerging professionals.

Wednesday night will also see the ‘museum pub quiz’ organized by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History followed by the conference banquet on Thursday evening.

Friday, June 26th

SPNHC ABM 9:00-13:00 followed by special interest groups
Collection tours 14:15-17:00

The final day of the conference will open with the SPNHC Annual Business Meeting, followed by a selection of special interest groups. These sessions will open with a few short presentations to help promote discussions. Currently two of these groups are confirmed:

  • iDigBio Working Groups and SPNHC SIGs: Collaborating to further digitization efforts.
  • Sustainability of preservation environments.

The afternoon will then be dedicated to collections tours, including additional tours to other collection areas such as Art and Archaeology, and offsite Collections Centre.

Getting to Cardiff

Flying. Flights to Cardiff via Cardiff Airport are possible but limited. When planning your flights there are a number of options to consider:

  • Take a flight to one of the London hub airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick. Cardiff is approximately two hours travel away on road or rail links.
  • Bristol and Birmingham Airports have many more carriers operating from them than Cardiff, and this could be an option to some. There are a regular bus/rail link to Cardiff from both Airports.
  • Flights to Cardiff Airport are very limited, but KLM do operate a Cityhopper link from Schiphol International, Amsterdam. Other international flights link into Cardiff via Dublin.

Rail. The UK does have an extensive rail network, and rail links to Cardiff are very good with trains to/from London every 30 minutes. However it is one of the most expensive networks in Europe and it pays to plan your journey in advance to get cheaper fares. More advice will appear on the conference website. Travel planning is also available via http://traveline.info and http://www.nationalrail.co.uk.

Road. Coach travel is cheaper than rail but again try to book in advance. If on a really tight budget then it is worth checking out 'Megabus'. The journey time is longer but it's possible to get to Cardiff from London for a few pounds! Guidance on public transport is available on http://traveline.info .

For more details on getting to Cardiff visit http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/spnhc2014/travel/

Cardiff itself has good bus links and is easy to get around. A bike makes a great form of transport!

Travel Grants

A number of grants are available for travel to the conference. For details visit http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/spnhc/travel-grants/. For more details of NatSCA's 2014 Conference Bursaries, including how to apply, please click here.


At the Park Thistle Hotel, 30 bedrooms have been reserved for SPNHC attendees on a bed & breakfast rate of £99.00 single occupancy, £109.00 B&B double occupancy.The above rooms can be booked by calling +44 871 3769011 and quoting MUSE260614. This hotel is in the City Centre.

You can find additional options via http://www.resweb.passkey.com/go/SPNHC2014 and by visiting http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/spnhc2014/accommodation/.

The City and Wales

Cardiff is a cosmopolitan city with a strong cultural scene. There are a range of performance and arts venues offering everything from a local band to a West End musical. The city also has a wide rang of decent ale pubs, trendy bars and restaurants of many flavours! Further information can be found at http://www.visitcardiff.com/.

The South Wales area has a rich heritage with a of historic heritage sites to visit ranging from classic castles to relics of the industrial revolution. For those wishing to visit the great outdoors then areas such as the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Forest of Dean and the Gower are easily visited. Further tourist information is available on the conference website (http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/spnhc2014/cardiff/) and http://www.visitwales.com/.

The conference website is now live at http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/spnhc2014/ and for the latest updates, you can find out more on twitter at @SPNHC2014, or on facebook. The organising committee can also be contacted via julian.carter@museumwales.ac.uk.

We look forward to offering a warm ‘croeso i Gymru’ / ‘welcome to Wales’ in 2014!