Invitation to a press tour behind the scenes of the NHM Vienna: The British Harrison Institute donates 19,000 birds to the museum

25. October 2022
On Friday, 4 November 2022, at 10.30 a.m., the NHM Vienna invites you to a behind-the-scenes press tour of the bird collection.
The bird collection of the NHM Vienna is getting a notable addition: The „Harrison Institute Bird Collection“ from the UK covers 889 bird species world-wide and comprises some 19,000 scientific skins. Now the bird collectio,n created by the physician and ornithologist James Harrison (1892-1971) and his son Jeffrey (1922-1978), is coming to the Natural History Museum Vienna - and will be researched and digitised here.
 
On Friday, 4 November 2022, at 10.30 a.m., the NHM Vienna invites you to a behind-the-scenes press tour of the bird collection.
 
Location:          Natural History Museum Vienna, Burgring 7, 1010 Vienna, Bird Collection, 1st floor
 
Meeting point: 10.15 a.m. at the side entrance of the museum, Burgring 7, 1010 Vienna
 
Start: 10:30 a.m. in the rooms of the bird collection
 
Programme:
 
Welcome and introductory words:
Dr. Katrin Vohland, Director General & CEO of the NHM Vienna
 
About the Harrison Institute Bird Collection:
Dr. Paul Bates, Director of the Harrison Institute (Centre for Biodiversity and Research in Kent, UK)
 
On the NHM Vienna bird collection and the integration of the Harrison Institute Bird Collection:
Dr. Swen Renner, Head of the bird collection of the NHM Vienna
 
Followed by a tour of the bird collection at the NHM Vienna and parts of the Harrison Bird Collection.
 

The bird collection at the NHM Vienna
 
The bird collection of the Natural History Museum Vienna is one of the most important of its kind in the world. The collection is a valuable and irreplaceable nature archive, the scientific holdings represent the cornerstone for a wide range of research questions, ranging from basic research on the evolution and spread of species to issues of conservation.
 
The scientific bird collection comprises about 130,000 items and consists of the skins collection with 95,000 items, roughly 10,000 mounts, a skeleton collection (11,000 items), an egg collection (about 10,000 clutches), about 2,500 tissue samples, a collection of nests (1,000 items) and about 4,500 so-called “feather sheets”, which are sheets of paper on which individual feathers are arranged in a standardised format.
 
While not really restricted geographically, the collection has some geographical focal points because of its historical evolution. These focal points include the entire Palearctic, Central and Southern Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and New Zealand, as well as Central and South America with a focus on Brazil.

An important aspect that adds to the collection’s special value are the numerous type specimens (around 1,000) it contains. Types are the first description of a species, i.e. reference specimens that are tremendously important and unique for all aspects of taxonomic work (the correct identification of a given specimen); a considerable proportion of these specimens, e.g. of the dodo, and historical samples are no longer extant.
 
The Harrison Institute Bird Collection
 
The Harrison Institute (Centre for Biodiversity Research in Kent, UK) is donating its collection, the Harrison Institute Bird Collection, to the NHM. It comprises some 19,000 scientific skins covering 889 bird species, prepared or acquired mainly by James Harrison (1892-1971) and his son Jeffery (1922-1978) until the late 20th century.
 
While most of the specimens were sourced in the UK, other important countries of origin include also Austria, Switzerland, France and Germany, but important objects also come from Japan, the USA and countries in the Middle East. Other geographical highlights are Antarctica and the Falkland Islands.

The Harrison Bird Collection also comprises twelve type specimens, which will be scientifically examined and included in the type catalogue currently being compiled by the NHM Vienna.
 
The transfer of the Harrison Bird Collection to the NHM Vienna as an inter-institutional exchange is extraordinary – in scope as well as is geographical coverage.
In the future, the Harrison Bird Collection will be researched, digitised and professionally managed at the NHM Vienna.
 
In order to be able to classify and digitise the new holdings and make them accessible to research, the first fundraising dinner will take place at the NHM Vienna on 3 November 2022.
 
Please register for the press conference at: presse@nhm-wien.ac.at
 
 
 
Eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops)
© Robbie Bright
Birds (Bellows) from the Harrison Collection
© NHM Wien, Alice Schumacher
Birds (Bellows) from the Harrison Collection
© NHM Wien, Alice Schumacher
Rooms of the bird collection at the NHM Vienna
© NHM Wien, Alice Schumacher
Rooms of the bird collection at the NHM Vienna
© NHM Wien, Alice Schumacher
The Harrison Institute in Sevenoaks, Kent (UK)
© NHM Wien, Christina Rittmannsperger
The Harrison Institute in Sevenoaks, Kent (UK)
© NHM Wien, Christina Rittmannsperger
Harrison Institute Bird Collection
© Paul Bates
Harrison Institute Bird Collection
© Paul Bates
Research room at the Harrison Institute
© NHM Wien, Christina Rittmannsperger
James Harrison
© Harrison Institute
James Harrison with research colleagues
© Harrison Institute
  
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