Workshops, Field Trips and Events

Below are descriptions of the available Workshops and Field Trips.

Note: Registration for all Workshops and Field Trips will be handled with Conference Registration.

Lack of sufficient registration for workshops or field trips may necessitate cancellation with a full refund - Deadline for Workshop or Fieldtrip cancellation is April 15, 2017.

Register For The Conference Here


Because Denver is located 5,280 feet above sea level, it is also known as the Mile High City. For this reason, we will be swapping the traditional schedule of workshops and field trips to give meeting participants a chance to get used to the altitude before launching into our action packed trips. Workshops will be offered the first two days of the meeting, June 18-19, and field trips will be offered on the last day, June 24.

WORKSHOPS -June 18 and 19, 2017

Natural History Biodiversity Informatics 101
Short Course

Course Overview:
The short course will provide an introduction to natural history biodiversity informatics. The course is designed for museum professionals that need a better understanding of the natural history informatics landscape or the resources available for digitizing and digitally sharing natural history collections data. Topics will cover the basics of natural history collection data and digital object lifecycle management, including digitally archiving and mobilizing collections data and participation in global initiatives. The course will be led by museum and informatics professionals with experience in natural history collections digitization and informatics.

Participant Questionnaire

Cost: $75, Includes Lunch and Coffee Breaks
Location: The Curtis, Room TBD
Date/Time:  June 18, 2017, One full day, Time: 8:00am - 5:00pm

TDWG Working Session

The TDWG (Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG)) Annotations and Data Quality interest groups will hold a joint working session at SPNHC 2017.  The TDWG Data Quality Interest Group has been producing a Fitness For Use Framework, which provides formal descriptions of data quality needs, mechanisms, and reports, and has been formulating a list of standard biodiversity data quality tests and assertions generalized from tests in use by the Atlas of Living Australia, The Global Biodiversity Information Facility, OBIS, iDigBio, and VertNet.  The TDWG Annotations Interest Group is concerned with formal representation of assertions about biodiversity data, and is exploring the applicability of a W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standard for annotating internet documents to biodiversity data.  The primary focus of this working session will be exploring the representation of Fitness For Use reports and assertions as annotations of biodiversity data. 

Cost: $75, Includes Lunch and Coffee Breaks
Location: The Curtis, Room TBD
Date/Time: June 18, 2017, One full day, Time: 8:00am - 5:00pm

Natural History Collections Club Network: Strategies for Building Undergraduate Interest and Participation in Natural History Collections

The NHCCN is focused on generating and maintaining student interest in biodiversity collections by providing them access to curators and mentors and to other students with similar interests.  The purpose of a multi-institution network is to increase accessibility of intellectual resources for club advisors and graduate and undergraduate student members.  Through their involvement with Natural History Collections Clubs (NHCCs), students are empowered to take leadership roles in their universities’ natural history collections.  The current network is made of several clubs that are curator-advised, student-driven organizations aimed at enhancing local natural history collections by helping to train student volunteers to assist in curating and managing them.  This workshop will explore the advantages and challenges of starting a NHCC at your institution as well as other strategies for getting students more involved in collections.

: FREE, Includes Lunch and Coffee Break
Location: The Curtis, Room TBD

Date/Time: June 18, 2017, One half day in the morning, Time: 8:00am - 1:00pm

Standards and Best Practices for Fluid Preservation

The insights and results presented in this workshop were initiated by Chris Collins (then of The Natural History Museum, London) in a Clothworkers Foundation funded project that combined the expertise of different people dedicated to fluid preservation during a workshop in London in 2013. Challenges for fluid-preserved collections were previously presented at the SPNHC conference in Cardiff ( in 2014. First outcomes to develop a framework to categorise sustainable approaches towards fluid preservation benchmarks and standards were presented during a workshop at the SPNHC conference in Berlin in 2016. In this next step, we will present effective and achievable standards and a consensus what baseline standards should be.

: $50, Includes Lunch and Coffee Break
Location: The Curtis, Room TBD
Date/Time: Sunday, June 18, 2017, One half day in the afternoon, Time: 12:00pm - 5:00pm

Scenario Planning and Collaboration to
Improve Disaster Preparedness

Will your disaster plan work in a real disaster situation?  It's better to find answers now than after a disaster has occurred! Attend this scenario-based collaborative workshop to improve disaster preparedness and response for collections. Julie A. Page, Co-Coordinator, California Preservation Program (CPP) and Western States & Territories Preservation Assistance Service (WESTPAS), will be leading workshop participants through disaster vulnerability assessments, testing institutional emergency plans with various scenarios, and discussing mechanisms for collaboration across institutions. WESTPAS is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Participants should bring one copy of their institutional emergency plan to this day long workshop. Participants will complete a simple risk assessment assignment in advance of the workshop.

Cost: $75, Includes Lunch and Coffee Breaks
Location: The Curtis, room TBD
Date/Time: June 19, 2017, One full day, Time: 12:00pm - 5:00pm


This workshop is by invitation only for natural history museum directors, leaders and administrators. It will address digital data and digitization sustainability. Specific content will include:

  • Preserving and archiving digital assets
  • Sustaining the biodiversity informatics function
  • Establishing digital data curation as part of the curatorial process
  • Sustaining digitization as a core activity

Cost: TBD
Location: The Curtis, Room TBD
Date/Time: Monday, June 19, 2017, one full day, Time: 8:00a - 5:00pm


Legal Aspects of Shipping Preserved Animals and Tissues

The workshop gives a comprehensive introduction to relevant regulations and international laws researchers and institutions should consider when shipping specimens internationally. Covered areas include customs law, veterinary and animal by-product regulations, CITES and species protection legislation, IATA Dangerous Good Regulation (including an initial training for A180 shipping of ethanol preserved specimens) and practical advice for packaging and shipping of specimens. The final presentation will discuss potential effects of the Nagoya Protocol on the exchange of specimens. All presentations will be made available for self-training after the workshop.

Logistics: Registrants will receive transportation instructions in their registration packet.
: $50, Includes Lunch, Coffee Break and Round-trip Bus Pass
Location: Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Avenir Collections Center, Zoology Workshop
Date/Time: Monday, June 19, 2017, Full Day, Time: 8:00am - 5:00pm

Writing for Successful Journal Publication to Promote Effective Change in Natural History Collections

This workshop will focus on how to present your work through journal publication to promote effective change in natural history collections. A journal article communicates an author's overall idea, the execution of the author's work or study and the value the work lends to the broader natural history community. We will present strategies for presentation of ideas, tips on how to create effective graphs, figures and tables, and basic data analysis. Participants will be given a topic and some 'data' at the beginning of the workshop. At the end of each presented topic, participants will have a few moments to put this information into the respective manuscript section form (abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, graph or table), which will be critiqued and discussed at the end of the session.

: $50, Includes Lunch and Coffee Break
Location: The Curtis, Room TBD

Date/Time: June 19, 2017, one half day in the afternoon, Time: 12:00pm - 5:00pm

Getting It Paid For: Best Practices in Preparing Successful IMLS Grant Applications

This participatory workshop will examine the strategies, logistics, and best practices involved in preparing successful IMLS grant applications for natural history collections projects. First, we will examine the process in manageable units, beginning with conceptualizing a project and ending with the successful submittal of the application. Then using abbreviated examples of actual applications for natural history collections projects, we will replicate peer review panel activities so that participants can develop a solid understanding of what's involved in the analysis and evaluation of competitive, fundable applications. At each stage, there will be opportunities to brainstorm ideas, draft application elements, discuss our reactions, and ask questions. Participants will receive sets of worksheets and PowerPoint slides for the day's activities as well as for future reference.

Workshop participants will understand:

  • the nature and goals of IMLS grant programs for museums, including new initiatives and emphases;
  • how to assess the fit between their funding needs and the agency's opportunities;
  • how to conceptualize and describe a fundable project in writing;
  • how an application is reviewed and evaluated.

Cost: $50, Includes Lunch and Coffee Break
Location: The Curtis, Room TBD

Date/Time: June 19, 2017, one half day in the morning, Time: 8:00am - 1:00pm


The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), in partnership with the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), is presenting a one-day workshop for a limited number of participants that is focused on preventive care and basic conservation treatment of historic mammalian taxidermy. Each participant will leave the workshop with a working knowledge of the preservation needs of historic mammalian taxidermy and how to address common condition issues, as well as a Resource Kit of conservation references, samples, and common treatment materials. The workshop will focus on hands-on experience. Therefore, two pre-workshop webinars on background and safety information will be offered for registered participants. In the weeks leading up to the workshop, participants also will be asked to share a brief summary of their working history with mammalian taxidermy. This information will help organizers tailor the workshop content to the appropriate level for the group.

The targeted participants are those who occasionally or regularly work with historic taxidermy collections, and are seeking to increase their knowledge and confidence in its preventive care and basic conservation. Conservators and professionals in allied fields such as collection managers, preventive care professionals, museum preparators, exhibition technicians, and taxidermists are invited to participate.

Logistics: Registrants will receive transportation instructions in their registration packet.
Cost: $55 - Registration includes lunch, two coffee breaks and a round-trip bus pass
Location: Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Avenir Conservation Center
Date/Time: June 19, 2017, 8:00am - 5:00pm, buses depart for DMNS at 7:30am and 7:45am

A Dentist’s Nightmare: Volunteering for Cavities

Learn about and experience how the DMNS Anthropology Department has streamlined custom storage cavity mount making with volunteers in mind.  Anthropology Collections Assistant, Jeff Phegley, and Anthropology Collections Manager, Melissa Bechhoefer, will walk through our process from pulling artifacts out of existing storage, measuring, designing the mount, making custom boxes, and cavity mounts, all with a volunteer workforce.  As part of the workshop, you will get hands-on experience building a custom box and mount for an object in the DMNS Ethnology collection.  Our 50+ volunteers have rehoused over 8,000 objects in the last two years—come learn how!

Logistics: Registrants will receive transportation instructions in their registration packet.
Cost: $25 - Registration includes lunch, one coffee break and a round-trip bus pass
Location: Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Avenir Collections Center, Anthropology Workshop
Date/Time: June 19, 2017, one half day, Time: 8:00am - 1:00pm

EVENTS - June 20 - 23, 2017

Ice Breaker Reception
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Location: The Curtis Hotel
Date/Time: June 20, 2017 at 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Cost: Included in Registration - $0

Emerging Professionals Luncheon
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Meet & network with other emerging natural history collections professionals at the 3rd annual SPNHC Emerging Professionals Luncheon. We welcome pre-career, early career, interest and/or "still not sure what I'm doing yet" persons.

Location: The Curtis Hotel
Date/Time: June 21, 2017 at Noon - 1:30pm
Cost: Included in Registration - $0

Sponsoring Partners Reception
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Our sponsoring partners will host a reception in the tradeshow hall. In addition to refreshment, the reception will feature activities and prizes.

Location: The Curtis Hotel
Date/Time: June 21, 2017 at 5:00 - 7:30pm
Cost: Sponsored by Partners - $0

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bring your dancing shoes!

Location: Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Date/Time: June 22, 2017 - 6:00pm-11:00pm

     Busses leave from the Curtis at 5:30pm

     Dinner - 6:00pm -8:00pm

     Dancing - 8:00pm-11:00pm

     Busses shuttle back to the Curtis - 9:00pm -11:30pm

Cost: Attendees - $75
         Guests      - $75
Students   - $40


SPNHC Annual Business Meeting and Luncheon

Location: The Curtis
Date/Time: Friday, June 23, 2017, Time: 11:00am - 12:30pm
Cost: Included in registration - $0

Avenir Collections Center Tour
Friday, June 23, 2017

Tours of the recently constructed Avenir Collections Center at Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

The generosity of the SPNHC community in sharing skills, knowledge, and experience around building projects and collection facilities served as a great foundation for this project.

Location: Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Date/Time: June 23, 2017 at 1:00 - 5:00pm
     Busses leave from the Curtis at 12:30pm

     You will receive a map of the Avenir Collections Center so that you may tour open-house style. Museum   staff will be available in each location to answer questions. You will receive a map of the Museum so that you may enjoy the exhibits and amenities until closing at 5:00 pm.


     Busses shuttle back to the Curtis 3:00pm - 5:15pm

Cost: Included in Registration - $0


IMLS Grant Chat

Connie Cox Bodner, Ph.D., Supervisory Grants Management Specialist
Institute of Museum and Library Services

Bring your ideas for an IMLS grant application, and vet it with your peers and with a senior program officer from IMLS. This informal session will give you the opportunity to share your ideas, elicit opinions from others, hear what others are thinking about, and ask questions about the IMLS application process as it applies to your organization and your needs for collections support. IMLS welcomes applications addressing collections planning, management, conservation, access and use, digitization, website development, and professional development/training. Why not make your project the next one funded?

Herbarium Curation

Melissa Islam, Ph.D.
Associate Director of Research & Head Curator of the Herbaria, Denver Botanic Gardens

Now more than ever, collections are used to answer a broader range of ecology and evolutionary questions strengthening their importance for scientific research. As herbarium curators, collections managers, and researchers, the importance of these collections seems undisputable. So, we may forget that not everyone at our institutions appreciates the value of these irreplaceable resources. With shrinking budgets and less available space, administrators may view dissolving herbaria as an easy way to solve budget and space as is happening at NLU. This Special Interest Group Session will facilitate conversations on how to create long-term sustainability and communicate your herbarium’s value to administrators, the public and policy makers.

Collection Fact Sheets as Useful Collections Management Tool

Anja Friederichs, Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany
Thomas Schossleitner, Collections Manager, Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany

At the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin we are in the process of establishing an internal (and later on partly external) Collection Management Wiki. To develop it from a somewhat theoretical information source to a more practical tool to manage collections one approach is to develop collection fact sheets, which are meant to act as centralized and standardized repository.

This informal session is meant to exchange ideas and concepts and systems used at different institutions. We want to explore ways how fact sheets or a wiki in general can help to develop a sustainable, standardized and transparent central repository for collection documents and key data, which can be easily updated and be used in every day work life and facilitate it in the long term. May it be for data retrievals, storing and sharing documents concerning work flows, processes or best practices. Be it as a fundament to establish assessment data, emergency planning or show case the collections or the work done in them for internal or external reasons. We’d be happy to share our experience and learn and exchange how other institutions and natural history collections cope with an ever growing number of information and the need for documentation and establishing an easy to use repository of the different aspects collection management requires.

SPNHC Wiki Hack-a-Thon

Breda M. Zimkus, Jessica D. Cundiff, Rachael P. Arenstein

The SPNHC wiki ( was created to foster SPNHC’s mission to improve the preservation, conservation, and management of natural history collections in order to ensure their continuing value to society. It allows an open forum for museum professionals to access, add and comment on documents, procedures, and practices related to natural history collections care. This informal session will allow SPNHC members to work collaboratively in small groups to review draft pages by editing existing content and incorporating new information and resources. A list of desired best practice topics is available on the wiki ( These are topics that have been highlighted for development by the Best Practice Committee. They may contain some preliminary content, but are awaiting member contribution and discussion. This session will also allow those interested in working on new topics to share ideas and draft outlines for new wiki pages. Lastly, we welcome those that are not familiar with the wiki to receive hands-on training by members of the Best Practice Committee so they can contribute to this valuable resource when they return to their home institution.


Uncover the invisible - What do we know about deterioration  processes in mammal skins and hides?

Steffen Bock & Christiane Quaisser, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany

In many mammal collections the deterioration of the skins and hides is a well-known conservation problem. In the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany substantial part of the bigger study skins are brittle and easily hand-tearable. The tear strength is decreasing over time until the skins are falling apart and are lost forever. Hitherto, our finds show that a high acidity in the skins is the main reason for the degradation. However, factors like the air pollution and bad storage conditions can cause acceleration of their deterioration.

In an informal session we want to share and exchange our experiences and knowledge with colleagues working with skins and hides around the world and across disciplines. - What is the status of mammal skins in your collection? Are you facing the same problems? How to measure and assess damage and risk? Are there any parameters that can help us to describe a hardly visible problem without causing even more damage? What are you doing with threatened and damaged skins? What are pros and cons of different storage conditions? Is there a best practice in the storage of bigger study skins? How to prepare bigger study skins to ensure their long-term preservation and availability for a whole range of potential uses in the future?

We invite you to share your knowledge with other interested people in order to bring together our knowledge, to develop a better understanding of underlying processes, approaches to handle the problem and best practices of storage and treatment of historic and new skins and hides.

Storage Techniques for Art, Science, and History Collections (STASH)

Preventive Conservation and Storage: STASH Flash I

Laura Abraczinskas, Rebecca Kaczkowski, Lisa Elkin, Christopher Norris, and Catharine Hawks

The conference theme addresses the next generation of best practices that are designed to prolong the lifetime of natural science collections. This session will focus on best practices in storage as a primary factor that affects the preservation potential of collections.

The session will begin with an introduction to Preventive Conservation: Collection Storage, a new volume (expected publication summer 2017) that is a joint venture between SPNHC, the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), Smithsonian Institution, and The George Washington University. This new volume provides updated information for the foundational 2 volume set - Storage of Natural History Collections: Ideas and Practical Solutions and Storage of Natural History Collections: A Preventive Conservation Approach – both originally published by SPNHC (1992 and 1995 respectively). The session will then focus on best practices for collections housing, using the STASH (Storage Techniques for Art, Science and History Collections) website ( to illustrate the connection between foundational concepts covered in the book and examples of best practice.

STASH was created by the Foundation of the AIC (with funding from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation) to share well-designed storage solutions and has grown annually to include innovative and creative storage solutions from a wide range of allied professionals concentrating on collections care. STASH is interdisciplinary and the editorial board is composed of representatives from a range of allied organizations, including SPNHC.

The STASH Flash session will utilize a lightning round or “tips” session format with short, five minute presentations detailing a particular storage design or technique. If time allows, presentations will be followed by group discussion, where participants can talk about modifications, materials choice as well as other creative ways to carry out similar projects. Flash submissions will be grouped according the following themes.

  • In keeping with the conference theme, presentations will be solicited on storage mounts or support systems that demonstrate ingenuity and utility. These can be scenarios related to disaster preparedness, impacts of changing regulations, moving collections, new solutions to old problems, public access to collections, sustainability, use of new materials or digitization of collections.


  • The second proposed theme focuses on multi-function supports serving more than one purpose, such as storage, examination, travel and/or exhibition purposes.


  • Innovative storage solutions for individual or collection groups that do not conform to either theme will be accepted if space allows.


FIELD TRIPS - June 24, 2017

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
June 24, 2017

Visit one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits, with petrified redwood stumps over 4m wide! nestled in a rich montane grassland and forest, which should be in full bloom during our visit.

: $75, includes a box lunch
Date/Time: Bus leaves from the Curtis, Saturday, June 24, 2017, 7:00am – 5:30pm


Wild to Captive
June 24, 2017

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a 15,000-acre expanse of prairies and wetlands that has transitioned from prairie to farmland to war-time manufacturing site to wildlife sanctuary with bison, bald eagles and blackfooted ferrets. After a tour of the refuge, we will step inside the unique collection at the National Wildlife Property Repository which is responsible for receiving wildlife items that have been forfeited or abandoned to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

: $50, includes a box lunch
Date/Time: Bus leaves from the Curtis, Saturday, June 24, 2017, 8:30am – 2:30pm
Please Note: Only those at least 12 years in age may participate on this field trip.


People, Rocks, Fossils, Oh My!
June 24, 2017

We will visit sites near Denver to spot dinosaur tracks, awe-inspiring geology including the Fountain Formation, fragments from ancient people, and enjoy lunch at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Accompanied by a geologist and those who have studied these varied sites, you are bound to learn something new.

: $50, includes a box lunch
Date/Time: Bus leaves from the Curtis, Saturday, June 24, 2017, 8:00am – 2:30pm


Nature to Nurture
June 24, 2017

Naturalists unite for this journey to one of Colorado's 14ers, Mount Evans, to enjoy vistas of the Rocky Mountains and spot delicate floral treasures as well as unique animals. On a guided walk, expect to find wind-sculpted pines and native pika while enjoying the amazing views.

: $50, includes a box lunch
Date/Time: Bus leaves from the Curtis, June 24, 2017, 7:00am – 2:30pm


Afternoon Add-On: Microbrews in RiNo June 24, 2017

Learn about some of the microbrews that have dubbed Denver “the Napa Valley of beer.” With a certified Cicerone®, we will participate in Flight School with 4-5 beer tastings and then, break into teams to complete a scavenger hunt where you will learn about RiNo, a unique neighborhood in Denver. After the scavenger hunt, meet at the final microbrewery where prizes will be given.

: $30
Date/Time: Saturday, June 24, 2017, 3:30pm – 5:30pm.
Please Note: You may select this Microbrewery Tour in conjunction with another field trip, or on its own. You will not be able to attend the Microbrewery Tour if you select the Florissant Fossil Beds field trip. The activities will start at 3:30pm. Participants are responsible for making their own way to the first brewery, which is 1.5 miles from the Curtis Hotel.

Denver Botanic Gardens June 24, 2017

Denver Botanic Gardens is open from 9:00am – 9:00pm in the summer and SPNHC attendees will have one complimentary entry with their SPNHC badge. On Saturday, June 24, a behind-the-scenes tour, discussing the natural history collections, will be offered at 11:00am.

: $0 with SPNHC badge
Date/Time: Open from 9:00am – 9:00pm daily; behind-the-scenes tour at 11:00 am on Saturday, June 24, 2017. The Gardens can be reached by public transportation and is 2.7 miles from the Curtis Hotel.